WASHINGTON (CNN) – As the deadline approached Tuesday for state Republican parties to submit delegate selection plans to the Republican National Committee, a GOP official warned that any state disregarding party rules would face severe penalties.
If a state party does not hold its primary or caucus contest between Feb. 5 and July 28, then half of that state’s delegates will not be invited to the presidential nominating convention scheduled for Sept. 2008 in Minneapolis, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. If a state party announces its primary or caucus date after the RNC issues its “Call to the Convention” - invitations to Minneapolis - then the penalty increases to 90 percent of its delegates. The call can be made at anytime before Dec. 31.
The GOP official noted the rules and penalties governing the nominating calendar were approved at the 2004 convention. So far several states are disregarding them. Florida, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina have all announced primary and caucus dates in January in an effort to gain significant influence on the nominating process that historically belonged solely to Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Republican official did acknowledge that the eventual Republican nominee for president could intervene to help restore the stripped delegates to these renegade states. But the official added that because of the complexity in doing so, it is more likely the nominee would probably seek other accommodations to allow the disqualified delegates to attend the convention in an unofficial capacity.
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston