Tom Crouser: WV GOP cuts democracy out of process (Opinion)

To better serve us, the West Virginia Republican Party Executive Committee decided to select our national convention delegates in cooperation with the Trump campaign. That way we won’t have to bother with it. There’s only one thing missing in that deal: democracy. Here are details.

Melody Potter, the state party chairwoman, was quoted in a MetroNews article on Aug. 25 as saying, “I’m excited that Republican State Executive Committee members overwhelmingly approved a plan that is supported by President Donald Trump’s campaign that will streamline the process used for delegate selection for the 2020 Republican National Convention.”

Let me restate that. The state Republican Executive Committee, with the help of the Trump campaign, will choose delegates to the national convention. I assume the Trump campaign would have veto power. Those delegates then, in turn, will select the Republican nominees for president and vice president. Hmmm.

I’d bet they didn’t solicit the opinions of either declared or potential primary challengers, such as Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford or Jeff Flake.

Don’t get me wrong. I doubt if any other Republican will beat Trump. Rather, it’s the principle. As a little Republican, I have no way to influence delegate selection under this plan.

On social media, one committee member explained that those who work diligently for the party are never elected as convention delegates, rather it is whomever the voters select. And they can select anyone running. Huh. I really didn’t know that working for the party was a criterion to be a convention delegate.

Now, understand, the decision to do away with voters electing delegates wasn’t nefarious. Rather, the wrong solution was provided to an obvious problem.

Linda Huggins, president of the West Virginia County Clerks Association, asked the Republican committee to change the delegate selection process because each county’s cost of programming ballots skyrocketed.

The West Virginia Association of Counties reported that Roane County’s 2016 Republican ballot was 25 pages. Ohio County had to program 72 screens with 40 of those pages for the Republican National Convention. Kanawha and Putnam counties reportedly had to print an extra 115,312 optional scan ballots.

Well, that seems a bit much. However, we don’t decide to hold an election based on election cost or voter convenience. So, one position is we should all do our jobs. Voters should vote and counties should count. Otherwise, how does a little Republican support their candidate?

Further, to infer that our state Executive Committee represents us is dumbfounding. Quick, name your committee members. Didn’t think you knew.

Well, there is another way.

Start by having convention delegate candidates register as is done now; either declared for a presidential candidate or not (undeclared).

As we already have a popularity contest among presidential candidates on the ballot, leave that the same. By the way, a vote for your favorite only serves to make you feel good, as it has no impact on who is chosen as a delegate. Currently, only your vote for delegate does that.

The only change would be adding a slot for “undeclared.” Then, the Republican Executive Committee chooses delegates in the same proportion as the presidential vote, with a 5 percent minimum.

How does the committee then choose the delegate? Draw winners by lot among declared candidates would be one way, as is done in cases of ties now. Or, preferably, they could let the candidate’s campaign choose among declared candidates. The state committee could then choose by lot among undeclared delegate candidates.

What I am adamantly opposed to is the state Republican Executive Committee choosing delegates with the Trump administration, or any administration, having a veto power.

What can you do? Ask your committeeman and committeewoman to change this decision. Their names are listed on www.wvgop.org. Unfortunately, the current list removed their telephone numbers and email addresses, compared to an earlier version.

What can the Executive Committee do? Rescind the plan and choose an alternative that doesn’t leave out democracy.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant living in Mink Shoals and a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist. Reach him at tom@crouser.com

or follow @TomCrouser on Twitter.

Funerals for Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dotson, Jeffery - 7 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Kees, Nancy - 11 a.m., Salem Road Freewill Baptist Church, Oak Hill.

Payne, Arless - 5 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Taylor, Connie - 11 a.m., Memory Gardens, Low Gap.

Taylor, Joseph - 11 a.m., Gauley Bridge Baptist Church.

Williams, Nellie - 1 p.m., Pineview Cemetery, Orgas.

Yates, Ruth - 11:30 a.m., Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum, South Charleston.