Updated 6:11 p.m. ET, 5/8/2014
Memphis, Tennessee (CNN) – The Republican National Committee is expected to approve a new penalty Friday that will punish candidates seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination if they participate in non-sanctioned primary debates.
The penalty is meant to give the national party more control over the presidential nominating process after party leaders watched a nasty, drawn-out primary in 2012 that included 20 major debates.
The RNC Rules committee approved the penalty Thursday as well as language that will create a new committee to oversee the GOP primary debate process including the timing, location and media partners for these events. The full RNC membership, which is meeting in this southern city this week to discuss political strategy, will vote on it Friday. The penalty is expected to easily pass.
Bruce Ash, a national committeeman from Arizona, said that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus had informed the full RNC membership Thursday morning that he had spoken to the candidates who are said to be interested in running for the GOP nomination and the proposal was favorably received.
“They have all agreed to this approach,” Ash said. “Many of those candidates have advocated a much stronger approach and rigorous penalties.”
Before the vote, a few RNC members expressed concern that the national party was preventing candidates from deciding for themselves what primary debates they should participate in. But that concern was countered by advocates who argued the penalty was needed to ensure the GOP had more control over how the party picked its presidential nominee.
Gaining more control over the presidential primary debates is just one step Priebus is taking to try and gain influence over the presidential primary process. Priebus is also expected to schedule the Republican National Convention early in the summer of 2016 rather than late August/early September when the event is traditionally held. The rational is that by choosing the Republican nominee earlier, it will allow the GOP to focus its full attention on winning the general election in November.