A Hail Mary heave to block Trump’s nomination

March 14, 2016
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Savannah Center in Cincinnati, Ohio March 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Donald Trump speaks in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

The Republican Party establishment is falling all over itself in its attempts to stop Donald Trump from becoming the GOP standard-bearer. One way to deny Trump the presidential nomination is with a divided convention. This would happen if Trump does not win a majority of the delegates during the primary season. There seems little chance, however, that any other candidates can get a majority or even beat out Trump to be the leader going into the convention.

Yet, there is a clear way that the party can block Trump. Republicans must take up a long-neglected practice: favorite-son candidacies.

Favorite-son politicians, usually senators or governors, have a discreet popularity in one state or region. A state’s entire delegate slate goes to the national convention pledged to support him or her. If the official can make a viable run for the nomination, then the delegates stick. Otherwise, after a number of ballots, the votes can be traded for future spoils to support a more popular candidate.

U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida, March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Senator Marco Rubio speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Tampa, Florida, March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

As brokered conventions gave way to primaries, the favorite-son idea fell into disuse. National candidacies have become the way to run for office. But a series of Republican favorite-son candidacies could stop Trump from picking up the 1,237 delegates he needs to take the nomination.

The GOP establishment is already using this method on a de facto basis. Senator Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas and the neighboring state of Oklahoma on Super Tuesday. The party barons are banking on Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to take his state, and Ohio Governor John Kasich to take his. If these favorite sons can’t carry their states, Trump may be able to waltz to the nomination.

The Republicans, however, could take the favorite-son idea to a more extreme conclusion. Trump is leading in many other states. The party could run popular state officials in them to drain away votes from him.

Ohio Governor and Republican U.S. presidential candidate John Kasich speaks at a rally in Strongsville, Ohio March 13, 2016.   REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Ohio Governor John Kasich in Strongsville, Ohio, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Granted, it would make the convention even more complex. But it also could be that the Republicans can find a better candidate from the ranks of those not currently in the race.

A favorite-son plan carries with it some serious potential risks. The first is that it is not at all clear that any local candidates can beat Trump. Running favorite sons may simply further split the support of the remaining candidates.

It is also possible that Republicans do not have a popular enough figure in some key states. In California, for example, which has by far the largest remaining delegate haul, there is not one statewide elected Republican official. There are a number of House of Representatives members of note though, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and some big-city mayors. Yet the party may have a hard time finding someone who can compete with Trump’s star wattage.

One major problem in some states is that the time period to register to run for the nomination has run out. The deadline is rapidly approaching in many others.

fav-Adlai_Stevenson_1952_campaign_poster

Adlai Stevenson 1952 presidential campaign poster. Illinois Governor Stevenson was the favorite son of the convention host state, and he won the Democratic nomination. Wikipedia

In New York, for example, the party would have been able to put up former Governor George Pataki, who ranked well in some early New York state polling. However, the time period to register in the state has run out, and Pataki is apparently not on the ballot.

But Republicans would still have time to put someone up in seven of the major remaining states, including New Jersey and the biggest, California, which by itself has 7 percent of the total delegates to the convention.

Perhaps the GOP could quickly get some proven moderate vote getter on the ballot, someone like a former New Jersey Governors Christie Todd Whitman or Tom Kean. It could also look to Meg Whitman in California. All have their downsides, but this type of candidate may be able to attract voters turned off by Trump and Cruz and not interested in Kasich or Rubio.

A favorite-son plan may be a difficult way of denying Trump the delegate total to win the nomination. But the party is already trying to do this. It may be time to look back at the most battle-tested method that helped lead to old-fashioned contested conventions. For the Republicans, it may be that favorite sons are the way to go.

20 comments

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You’re missing the main point. The Republican Party establishment is falling all over itself in its attempts to stop “People” from electing Donald as the GOP standard-bearer.

Posted by otalP | Report as abusive

Oops! And this from a wonk at the Hugh L. Carey “Institute for Government Reform”?

Posted by wormseye | Report as abusive

Id this favorite son pratice would succeed so that Trump don’t get the nominee. He will just run as a Third party president anyway.So the R have nothing to win playing that game. Other than losing voters for all future.

Posted by Malten | Report as abusive

Here is a refreshing alternative – both Trump and Sanders going independent offering public much needed alternative – away from the proven-dysfunctional two-party system.

It would take a strong slap on the mindset of dysfunctional-establishment and both Trump and Sanders, are delivering this in style.

Posted by Mottjr | Report as abusive

Protesters that are causing trouble at Trump rallys are paid by the establishment. I would bet the house. It’s actually comical what length the establishment will go to knock him out. The KKK, the pope, etc. if the establishment blocks him, he will run independent and that will give Hilary the White House.

Posted by cheeze | Report as abusive

The Republican establishment better listen to the Republican voters if they don’t want four more years of a Clinton in the White House.

Posted by jackmaceachern | Report as abusive

Wow the left wing liberal wingnut media is going all out, attacking Trump from every angle. They are scared shitless that the benefits gravy train for the lazy will be shut off. Don’t worry, you’ll still get your Obama EBT and EIC.

The GOP and DNC and so scared of Trump and Bernie because neither owes their soul to a bunch of politicians and donor companies. AMERICANS MIGHT ACTUALLY GET REPRESENTED.

Posted by UgoneHearMe | Report as abusive

Trump did not know what the nuclear triad was. He thinks he’s going to be President of the United States. He’ll be lucky if he’s president of some tacky pink racist condo association in Florida.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Trump says he’s a champion of the 2nd Amendment. So why does he not allow guns at his rallies? Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Remember? Trump is anti-2nd Amendment. Disarms people at the gate.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

I don’t think Trump actually wants the Presidency. He has a more sinister plan that will not require him to spend the time or money to run as the Republican candidate.

At the Republican National Convention Trump will decide to default “on his doctor’s recommendation he get a heart/brain transplant” and he will transfer his delegates to whomever HE decides he wants as president. If the new Republican nominee were to win the presidency, Trump will OWN him/her. Controlling the deal for the long term business benefit of the Trump Organization.

One of Trump’s key conditions for giving his delegates over, will be the ability to insist whom is to be the VP running mate on the Republican ticket. That spot will go to Michael Bloomberg so that Trump ends up owning HIS ASS as well. Plus, Bloomberg would then be indebted to refinance Donald’s next bankruptcy filing.

Posted by cabeachguy | Report as abusive

I don’t think Trump actually wants the Presidency. He has a more sinister plan that will not require him to spend the time or money to run as the Republican candidate.

At the Republican National Convention Trump will decide to default “on his doctor’s recommendation he get a heart/brain transplant” and he will transfer his delegates to whomever HE decides he wants as president. If the new Republican nominee were to win the presidency, Trump will OWN him/her. Controlling the deal for the long term business benefit of the Trump Organization.

One of Trump’s key conditions for giving his delegates over, will be the ability to insist whom is to be the VP running mate on the Republican ticket. That spot will go to Michael Bloomberg so that Trump ends up owning HIS ASS as well. Plus, Bloomberg would then be indebted to refinance Donald’s next bankruptcy filing.

Posted by cabeachguy | Report as abusive

Trump vows to screw America: “Nobody better block me, either.”

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Soros should have to register as a foreign agent. He is meddling too much and needs to be shut down.

Posted by GetReel | Report as abusive

I favor the favorite son idea. It beats the caucus system in which a completely unqualified person can walk in and become President without ever being vetted. Even a cashier in Trump’s gambling casinos requires educational certificates and reference letters proving his professional experience. But for a US President there is no vetting process whatever. No expereince necessary.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

Could’a should’a but won’t

Posted by euro-yank | Report as abusive

Nominate Trump. It will save us Democrats a lot of war chest spending in the general election. GOP = dead.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Here are the media companies that control well over 90% of what you see and hear. Which of these giant corporations do you consider “liberal?”

AOL-Time Warner News Corporation(Fox)
General Electric (owner of NBC)
Sony (owner of Columbia and TriStar Pictures and major recording interests), and
Seagram (owner of Universal film and music interests).
Disney
Bertelsmann
Viacom

Posted by Boguseconomist | Report as abusive

Here are the media companies that control well over 90% of what you see and hear. Which of these giant corporations do you consider “liberal?”

AOL-Time Warner News Corporation(Fox)
General Electric (owner of NBC)
Sony (owner of Columbia and TriStar Pictures and major recording interests), and
Seagram (owner of Universal film and music interests).
Disney
Bertelsmann
Viacom

Posted by Boguseconomist | Report as abusive

The republican Speaker of the House just declared today, that the party establishment will likely “broker” their convention. They plan to block Trump, and will.

Super funny. Glad I’m not a republican. What an turd circus that outfit has become.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

I have, for quite a few decades now, considered the two main parties to be equally evil. Demoblicans and Republicrats I call them. In my sober view the US is scrapping the very rock bottom of the barrel trying to find a leader for us to vote for. Out of spite,therefore, I will vote for Donald Trump even if I have to write his name on the ballot. This is because I would really like to fire ALL the politicians and deport them all to Lower Slobovia where they’ll be no tribble at all, regardless of their respective places of birth. Where is Doctor Seusse when we really need him?

Posted by McChalium | Report as abusive