"The mythical, magical "brokered" convention. The dream of every politico (and tv network boss). The nightmare of every party apparatchik."
I shared this earlier today with a favorite political reporter who is working on a story regarding the possibility of a contested GOP nomination convention later this summer:
Ah, the often spoken of, never witnessed political "unicorn." The mythical, magical "brokered" convention. The dream of every politico (and tv network boss). The nightmare of every party apparatchik.
After the nuttiest, most entertaining primary season I've ever experienced, in consideration of the unique profile of the leading candidate AND the appeal to his "huuuuge" army of newly activated, motivated (and rabid) primary voters, that the GOP would consider holding a contested convention reminds me of a favorite line from "Princess Bride" that someone should send Reince Priebus before this "brokering" idea gets too far:
"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia'- but only slightly less well-known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!'"
Can you imagine the tv ratings for just the coverage of the convention rules committee? Would approach Super Bowl numbers!
But, alas, a contested convention is a death wish for the GOP against Hillary in 2016. Even worse, and I don't think I'm being hyperbolic about this, it could portend the irreparable fracturing of the three-legged Grand Old Party into its piece parts. I would bet cooler heads will prevail -- I don't think the party big feet will let it happen. (Of course, I also thought Trump would be out of the race by Thanksgiving...)
But let's fantasize: Consider that no deal gets done after California primary and we get to an "open" convention. Trump gets to Cleveland with 1,000+ delegates. Not enough to win first ballot, but is the clear, undisputed leading candidate. Cruz has 700+; Kasich, 400-ish. Plus a couple hundred Rubio/Carson/Bush floaters (also committed to first ballot).
On to the second ballot and the horse trading begins.
Rubio, etc delegates go establishment and align Kasich. We're down to three. Cruz/Trump delegates stay put. Still no winner.
On to 3rd ballot and the fist fights break out:
Option 1: "Art of the Deal" kicks in, Trump holds a rally for 75,000 in Municipal stadium and threatens to walk away from party unless he's the nominee. Late night brokers VP for Kasich (or Rubio). Game over. Trump is nominee.
Cruz delegates go bananas. (I need to check - but when is the Libertarian convention and could Cruz get his name on that line?) Too late to get on a whole lot of states as an independent for general. But movement conservatives might try anyway... Chatter of move to a "Conservative" party gets louder. Cracks get a lot wider in an already fractured party. Party loses White House, 5+ senate races, maybe the House? Historic stuff.
Option 2: GOP big feet hold their noses and decide it's better to lose in November -- and lose big -- than to lose the party. Rubio/Kasich/Christie gets VP deal done with Cruz-er. Establishment wing angry, frustrated (but also secretly happy that they get to prove their point in November that kooky right candidate has no prayer in a general election... they get to shove it down conservatives throats after Cruz gets a Goldwater-esque beat down...). Team Trump is outraged they got jobbed. But few options in near term to get Trump on a third line (but he might do it just to spite the party...) Trump army sits it out. Party loses millions of working-class. Minority party status for generations. Not a good option.
More likely? Somehow, someway leadership/Trump/Cruz figures out how to get Cruz to play ball pre-convention for future considerations. They are all collectively dumb. But they're not stupid. They will game this out and come to realization that a deal is better than the brokered-convention death wish.
Primaries will play out through California. Trump gets majority of the delegates... but not 1237. Cruz cuts some outrageous deal (though he's no VP for Trump -- and there is zero chance of some wacky Reagan-Ford "co-presidency") and makes tepid unity appeal to his delegates.
Trump will be nominee. Hillary wins WH. GOP loses in lots of places with Trump as their nominee... but non-brokered convention gives state-by-state federal candidates choice of whether to run/shun Trump. They'll lose a little (including WH). But party remains standing. And 2020 GOP nomination fight begins day after Cleveland convention!
Isn't this the most fascinating political season ever?
Only thing that could have made it more fun would have been a Bloomberg independent run!