Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committeeman for North Dakota, has asserted that once the GOP convention convenes in July, primary votes will be a secondary concern. This viewpoint could prove the undoing of current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
On April 14, Haugland sat down with NPR to discuss the upcoming Republican National Convention and how party delegates will factor into selecting a nominee.
The committeeman has an interesting perspective on the convention process, stating that even delegates who are pledged to the candidate that their constituency voted for technically do not have to follow the will of the voters.
In Haugland’s view, the rules actually make primary votes “absolutely irrelevant.”
“No matter what the popular belief might be, there is no connection between primaries and the actual convention,” Haugland said.
Haugland is among the 112 unbound Republican delegates who are not bound to a candidate during the primary process.
Haugland has been pushing a party rule change that would allow any candidate who has one a single delegate during the primary to be considered during the convention. This would allow presidential dropouts such as former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida or Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to be an option to still be selected as the nominee.
This attitude is not mainstream in the Republican Party, but if adopted it could deny both Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas the nomination if neither reach the 1,237 delegates necessary to win on the first convention ballot.
Trump has railed against the party rules as his campaign begins to hemorrhage delegates to Cruz, whose campaign has exhibited a more thorough understanding of the process. The senator has been able to court and win delegates in states where Trump won the popular vote.
“Our Republican system is absolutely rigged,” Trump told his supporters during a New York rally on April 12, according to The New York Times. “It’s a phony deal. They wanted to keep people out. This is a dirty trick.”
Haugland believes this is simply how the rules are meant to be followed, and has consistently stressed that the party decides, not the primary voters.
“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination,” Haugland told CNBC. “That’s the conflict here … The rules are still designed to have a political party choose its nominee at a convention.”
To those who find this process undemocratic, Haugland said, “That’s just the way it is. I can’t help it. Don’t hate me because I love the rules.”