A Virginia Republican is working to take back the GOP from establishment insiders he says conducted a major “power grab” at the party’s 2012 national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell is rallying his colleagues behind a motion to cancel GOP rules put into place by the Mitt Romney camp in Tampa that some have said were a slap in the face to Ron Paul supporters, tea partiers and grassroots Republicans alike.
In Tampa, the Convention Rules Committee, influenced by Romney consultant Ben Ginsberg, shocked the convention by adding to the party playbook a series of sweeping, power-condensing new rules. One measure enables the RNC to make decisions without approval of the full convention and another ensures that a candidate who wins a statewide caucus or primary controls the state’s delegates. The latter move was interpreted as retaliation against states that elected Ron Paul-supporting delegates instead of delegates pledged to the caucus or primary winners.
Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed Politics got national attention for reporting the change “offers the Republican Establishment a new tool to keep at bay tea-party initiatives that threaten to embarrass or contradict party leadership.”
RNC Vice Chairman Jim Bopp, in an email to RNC members, called the revisions the “biggest power grab in the history of the Republican Party.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin agreed, calling the proposal “a direct attack on grassroots activists by the GOP establishment.”
Cindy Lake, chairman of the Clark County, Nev., Republican Party, singled out Ginsberg by name in a press release.
“This attempted coup by the consultants and the national party elite would completely disenfranchise all rank-and-file Republicans,” she said. “The Clark County Republican Party refuses to stand idly by and allow this Marxist-style power grab to go unnoticed.”
Nonetheless, the Ginsberg rule changes were adopted.
Ginsberg told the Convention Rules Committee the changes were “necessary for the world in which we find ourselves in,” adding that he saw it “important for the political survival of the Party in the electoral context.”
Now Blackwell, who also called the rules changes “dangerous” and a “power grab” at the time, is working to reverse them.
Blackwell filed a motion for the upcoming RNC meeting in Charlotte, N.C., that would revert the GOP rulebook to what it was before the Ginsberg controversy.
Blackwell also sent a letter to his RNC colleagues explaining, “Members of the Standing Committee [on Rules] generally agreed that it’s a good idea to increase the opportunities for power at the RNC to flow from the bottom up.”
He goes on to recap that in Tampa, however, “Ben Ginsberg, a Convention Rules Committee member from D.C., representing himself as the spokesman for the Romney campaign, began to propose amendments to the report from the RNC.”
“First, he systematically submitted amendments to reverse the few and useful changes adopted by the Standing Committee and the full RNC to open up slightly the flow of power from the bottom up in the RNC. Then he supported a number of brand new amendments to increase the centralization of power in the RNC,” Blakwell writes.
“You will recall, however, the immense, immediate outrage at the convention and from the grassroots against the Ginsberg power grabs. The national convention’s consideration of the Convention Rules Committee report was a uniquely ugly scene,” he continues. “Since the national convention and to this day, there is vigorous condemnation of our national Party for Ginsberg’s power grabs.”
Now Blackwell is calling for a vote on his motion to cancel the Ginsberg rules, to “let everyone know where each of us stands on this matter.”
To take effect, Blackwell’s motion must be passed by a majority of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules and by a 3/4 vote of all the members of the RNC.
“Instead of further centralizing the Republican Party, we should welcome newcomers and treat them fairly, politely and cordially,” Blackwell writes. “What good is it to centralize power if doing so prevents us from recruiting new grassroots activists to our Party and building an organization which can win future elections?
“I happen to train thousands of conservative newcomers every year for success in politics,” he continues. “I know that, if passed, my motion to ‘de-Ginsberg’ our party rules will be greeted enthusiastically by newcomers we want to join us in our efforts to defeat the plans President Obama and his leftist allies are wreaking on our country.”