With Friday’s state Republican convention just around the corner, at least one candidate is upset about the rules the party has agreed upon to tally delegate votes.
In question is a so-called “drop rule,” which boots a candidate from a second ballot if they receive less than 10 percent of the votes on the first ballot. The rule would only apply if none of the candidates received more 50 percent of the vote during the first vote.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Brian K. Hill issued a press release calling the rule an “outrage” that destroys the integrity of the process.
“In the past it’s always been the lowest vote-getter in each round that gets dropped,” Hill said. “These strong armed tactics taints the entire legitimacy of the convention. This isn’t North Korea. The practice is un-American. Delegates should should be free to vote for whom they choose.”
Hill, a former military JAG attorney, said some delegates have promised him support after they honor their commitments to other candidates like Linda McMahon and Chris Shays in the first round. Those delegates made their initial endorsements months before ever meeting with him, he said.
Hill is one of five candidates in the Republican U.S. Senate race, and unlike Kie Westby and Peter Lumaj, this is his second attempt at running for the U.S. Senate. Two years ago Hill was a write-in candidate.
Jerry Farrell Jr., the GOP convention’s rules committee chairman, said the rules are designed to be fair within the convention’s time constraints. The party rented the convention center until midnight on Friday, and the U.S. Senate nomination portion won’t start until 7 p.m., he said.
“We don’t want to be there until the middle of the night,” Farrell said.
This year’s convention will employ block voting, where instead of over 1,000 delegates casting individual votes, municipal party leaders will report their town’s votes.
Hill said the process shouldn’t be about how quickly it can get done.
“This process should be about selecting the right candidate to take on the Democratic nominee, not expediency,” he said.
Farrell said the drop rule, which Hill is concerned about, is unlikely to be an issue in the U.S. Senate race. Unlike some of the congressional races, like the Fifth District where there are a number of viable candidates, it’s expected that the Senate race will only require one vote, he said.
“Most people I’ve talked to do not believe it goes to a second ballot,” he said.
Hill said that was guess work and there is no way to know whether a second ballot will be necessary until the night of the convention.
“They don’t have a crystal ball, they don’t know that for a fact,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “If they don’t think there’s going to be a second ballot, why make the rule in the first place?”
Farrell, a candidate for secretary of the state during the 2010 convention, was sympathetic with Hill’s position, but said at the end of the day you need a certain percentage of support to stay in the race.
“You get your supporters there, you motivate your people,” he said. “You put time and effort into it. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Politics is a competitive event.”
However, Hill said people lose faith in the political process if they don’t feel like the game is being played fairly. Changing the rules gives them that impression, he said.
“People need to feel confident with the process. They only feel confident if they feel it’s transparent and fair to all the candidates,” he said.