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RNC Rules Roadblock May No Longer be a Hurdle for Kasich

A rule that previously could have stopped a Kasich nomination may no longer be an issue for him.
Image: John Kasich
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a town hall at Penn State Brandywine Campus, Thursday, April 21, 2016, in Media, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Matt Slocum / AP

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — If Republican National Committee rules governing the party’s nominating process remain unchanged, it’s all but impossible for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to gain enough delegates to put his name into nomination at the convention this July.

But he can become the GOP nominee anyway.

The rule governing the Republican Party’s nomination process currently requires that a candidate demonstrate the written support of a majority of delegates from eight or more states. That threshold has helped winnow the field, with candidates dropping out as it became clear they’d be unable to meet it.

Currently, both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have met the eight-state threshold, while Kasich, if polls of the remaining primary states hold, is highly unlikely to get there.

But top RNC strategists confirmed to reporters Thursday at the committee’s Spring Meeting that the 40b requirement amounts to little more than a technciality. Having your name put into nomination affords candidates a number of advantages, like space in the convention hall and a nominating speech. But it’s not required to ultimately win the nomination.

Under the current rules, even those candidates who don’t meet the 8-state threshold can continue to amass delegate votes. And if they’re able to cobble together the support of a majority of delegates — the magic 1237 number — they win, even if it’s spread across all 50 states.

Typical interpretations of Rule 40 assumed Kasich’s campaign would somehow have to rewrite the convention rules to get the governor into contention for the nomination. That’s a tall order for the campaign, as they’d have to pack the committee finalizing the convention rules with supporters, and both Cruz and Trump already have an advantage in that effort. Still, Rule 40b isn’t final — the Convention Rules Committee will meet the week before the convention to finalize changes to the rules.

But the fact that Rule 40b doesn’t bar a candidate from gaining delegates’ votes removes a huge obstacle from his path to the nomination.

And that’s the assumption the Kasich campaign is operating under. Kasich strategist Mike Biundo told reporters at the RNC meeting that even if the rule isn’t changed, they see a path for the candidate.

“Rule 40b doesnt exist until it exists, and even if…nothing changes in the rules, anybody who gets 1,237 gets the nomination,” he said. “You dont have to have your name put in nomination. All that means is you don’t get the speech and the pomp and circumstance.

“But if delegates keep coming our way on subsequent ballots and we get to 1,237, we’re gonna be the nominee.”