By Sean McMinn – – – – –
With Marco Rubio’s exit from the 2016 GOP nominating contest, the distribution of the Florida senator’s earned delegates could become critically important as the race to the Republican National Convention in July continues.
Rubio won 168 delegates during his primary run, according to the Associated Press as of Wednesday morning. Taking into account the arcane Republican Party rules that vary from state to state, at least 98 of those will be up for grabs, a Roll Call analysis of the RNC regulations found.
That same analysis shows 45 delegates are still required to vote for Rubio at the convention for at least the first ballot, and other delegates will automatically fall to another candidate based on rules set up by each state.
But because of those unique state processes, it may be some time before we know where all of Rubio’s delegates will end up.
“We’ve had to go back and forth with them on our rules,” said Jake Parsons, the director of operations for the Oklahoma Republican Party of the RNC.
At this point, Donald Trump has 621 delegates, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 396 and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has 168. If none of those three candidates reach the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination before the convention, a contested convention could occur where no one candidate secures the majority of delegates on the first nominating ballot.
Here’s a look at just some of the various rules states have set up for where delegates for a drop-out candidate go:
- Many states, such as Iowa, require delegates to stay with their candidate through at least the first round.
- Some, like New Hampshire, free the delegates to vote for whomever they choose.
- And still others, such as South Carolina, have processes that automatically reallocate delegates.
In the Palmetto State, delegates supporting a candidate who has dropped out are required to vote for the candidate that came in second in the area the delegate represents.
“It was jokingly referred to as the Lindsey Graham rule,” South Carolina GOP Chair Matt Moore said, referencing the senator who attempted a presidential run earlier this year. “So if he were to win the state delegates, but not continue to the convention, it would still force candidates to compete in the state.”
On the Democratic side, the national party sets rules for how delegates can vote if their candidate drops out. Delegates from all states are free to vote for whomever they choose if their candidate releases them, a Democratic National Committee spokesman said.
Jason Dick contributed to this report.