Trump's "backroom effort" and the 2024 Republican delegate game ...again
The New York Times wades back into this ongoing story with some interesting new tidbits, but some mischaracterizations of the process as well
Stop me if you have heard this one before. A former president is working his networking advantages as a former president (and arguably current national party leader) in pursuit of the party’s presidential nomination.
It is a story that has been told countless times since 2020 and with greater frequency in 2023 as the first contests of the 2024 cycle draw increasingly near. In some, overarching sense, it is an old story in presidential nomination politics. Candidates work their advantages — their connections — to influence the calendar and/or delegate allocation rules. The only difference in 2024 — and it is not a small one — is that a former president is returning after an electoral defeat to once again (and for the third time) seek the Republican nomination. That just has not happened in either party in the post-reform era. And it places in the context of a nomination race a candidate who is uniquely qualified to work the relationships formed and nurtured while president.
It just is not that unusual for a candidate in that situation to seek to influence the nomination process in that way. In fact, it is not unusual for any presidential candidate (and their campaigns and affiliated groups) to do that. What is perhaps more atypical is that most of the other 2024 campaigns are not engaging with state parties in similar ways or to similar degrees. There is some outreach by other campaigns and it should be expected to fall short of that of the former president’s. That there is no or comparatively little communication between the various other campaigns and state parties is the bigger story here.
Let me repeat that: The bigger story is not that Trump is reaching out to state parties but that other campaigns are not (as much).
And while it superficially appears that the Nevada Republican Party has blocked out some other (non-Trump) campaigns in a variety of ways, that does not appear to the be the story in other states. Rather, it looks as if attempts by other campaigns to approach state parties either came too late or has not come at all (or as frequently). That is true at least to this point in the race. And it is late. The state-level rules are already fixed barring some tweaks that may be required by the Republican National Committee to bring those delegate selection plans in line with the national party rules.
So the New York Times is right to cart out another iteration of this Trump-is-working-the-state-parties story. The Iowa caucuses are approaching and more people are likely paying attention; folks who have not heard the story before. But at the same time, FHQ is of a mind that printing the same story over and over again just does not add that much to the discourse. Let’s dig into the good, the bad and the ugly of this latest venture into Trump-and-the-delegate-rules territory.
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