At every meeting of the Republican National Committee (RNC), there's a meeting of the RNC's Standing Committee on Rules, on which I serve for Virginia.
I proposed that a Party Unity Pledge with teeth in it be added to the national Rules of the Republican Party. On August 5 the RNC Rules Committee approved this important change with only one negative vote.
After almost certain approval by the 2012 Republican National Convention, the new rule will take effect in the 2012 fall elections and thereafter.
Here's the background.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist ran and raised millions as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and then, earlier this year, outrageously declared himself an independent, general election candidate against Marco Rubio, the runaway leader in the Republican primary.
Last year in a special election for the congressional seat in New York's 23rd District, Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, running far behind, dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat nominee.
At the RNC's August meeting in Kansas City, I moved, and, with a couple of friendly amendments by Bill Crocker of Texas and Saul Anuzis of Michigan, the Rules Committee passed what I call the Party Unity Pledge.
Here is the text of the Party Unity Pledge:
No candidate for public elected office shall receive money or in-kind support from the Republican National Committee prior to signing and delivering to the Committee the following pledge:
I, ____________, am a Republican and seek the office of ________________ in the general election to be held on ________(month) ___(day), _____ (year). I make the following pledge:
I will run and campaign as a Republican for the office named above. I will not oppose the Republican nominee for the office named above through time of the election specified above, whoever that may be. I will not in any way endorse or support any other person for the office named above at any time before the election specified above who is not then a Republican candidate.
If I fail to comply with the foregoing pledge, I promise, and shall be personally liable, to repay to the Republican National Committee and to any other donor, promptly upon request, the amount of their respective monetary contributions to my campaign.
Ordinarily, the Rules of the Republican Party cannot be changed by the RNC between national conventions.
Enabled to do so by a unique decision of the 2008 Republican National Convention, the Republican National Committee summer meeting in Kansas City narrowly approved a change (which I supported) in the delegate selection process for the 2012 National Convention.
The change was an effort to combat the tendency in recent election cycles for more and more states to select their delegates earlier and earlier, leading toward the undesirable result of a single, national presidential primary day.
If no change had been made, more than 30 states would have held their presidential primaries on the first Tuesday in February.
Four states (New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada) will be allowed without penalty to select their delegates in February of presidential election years.
States which select delegates in March may not conduct winner-take-all primaries but will have to institute some sort of proportional representation of delegates among the presidential candidates.
States which choose their national delegates in April or later will not be required to allocate those delegates among the presidential candidates by any form of proportional representation.
I do not consider this an ideal rules change, but it was the best possible under the circumstances.
This new rule provides that it will take effect if the Democratic National Committee adopts and adheres to the same provisions.