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Arkansas PoliticsRead

RPA Chair Supports Power Grab from Delegates

By Conduit for Action

The Chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas, Joseph Wood, expressed his support for a proposed rule change, many see as grabbing power away from the delegates to the Republican State Convention.

On May 18th, the Republican State Committee, which can act between meetings of the Republican State Convention, will consider a proposed rule change to require the State Convention to achieve a two-thirds (2/3) majority to pass any rule change or amend the party platform. The rules have always been that it takes a majority vote, which is the same vote required for amending local rules when a Republican County Convention meets.

In trying to sell the change, the proposed rule was sent out with an explanation citing consistency of rules, fairness among Republican bodies, and avoiding acting in haste. All the arguments were debunked in our article “Attack on the Republican State Convention?” There is no need to revisit those points here, but if you missed the article, you should read it by clicking the link. Our conclusion was:

“The only reason left for the rule change is a disrespect for the delegates of the State Convention, a disrespect by insiders who don’t trust delegates (the grassroots) and want to make it harder for those delegates to have an impact on party policy.”

Chair Joseph Wood weighed in on the issue by saying the platform and rules are too important to be decided by just a majority of State Convention delegates, and therefore a two-thirds (2/3) vote should be imposed on Convention delegates.

He may have not thought that argument through because it sounds like, “Two-thirds is good for thee, but not for me.” You see, the most significant vote in the RPA is the election of the Party Chair by the State Committee.  And the vote to select the Chair is a simple majority vote.

Imagine the stagnation and division in the party if a Chair could not be chosen except by a two-thirds majority vote.  Or imagine the problems that would be created if  a two-thirds threshold were required to win the primary in a state legislative race. The same type of stagnation and division would occur if the State Convention could only act by a two-thirds vote.

We will mention just one of the Party Chair’s many powers, that being the power which is the most important to rules changes and platform changes.

The Chair appoints single-handedly ALL the members of the Rules Committee and ALL the members of the Platform and Resolutions Committee. Why is that such a big deal? Because they are the committees that get to decide whether to recommend a rule change or platform change for consideration at the State Convention.

In effect, the Chair can have a veto power over whether a proposal gets recommended to the Convention. How? Through his appointments to the Rules Committee and Platform and Resolutions Committee. If a Chair wants to block certain changes from being recommended, all the Chair has to do is explain his position to his potential appointees. The same goes if a Chair wants to block certain individuals from being able to get their proposals recommended to the Convention.

The power to appoint all the members of the Rules Committee and Platform and Resolutions Committee also gives the Chair the ability to push though proposals the Chair favors for consideration by the Convention.

If changes to the party rules and platform are really too important to be done under current procedures, then instead of hamstringing delegates, the most meaningful change would be to end the Chair’s monopoly over the Rules Committee and Platform and Resolutions Committee.  For example, the Republican National Committee (RNC) does not allow such power to be held by its national chair but provides for representative membership in those very important committees.

It should be remembered that the Party Chair owes his allegiance to the State Committee not the State Convention. It is the State Committee that elects the Chair. With some members of the State Committee wanting to increase their power by limiting the State Convention, it could be hard for any Party Chair not to support their proposal.

The Chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas deserves much support in doing his difficult tasks, but in this case, he just happens to be on the wrong side of the issue.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Convention delegates being able to adopt changes by a majority vote. The reason the State Committee has a higher threshold of a two-thirds vote is because the Committee only holds delegated power, while the State Convention is recognized by the party rules as the final authority in all party matters.

Let’s get real. The attempt to hamstring the State Convention is about shifting power further away from delegates to make the State Committee even more powerful.  And why would anyone want to shift power away from the delegates? Perhaps it is for the same reason some party insiders keep looking for ways to undercut the influence of the more conservative County Committees and Congressional District Committees. Which committees? You know, the committees that dare to think the platform is not a meaningless advertisement and instead is a standard to judge the performance of the party and elected officials.

The proposal is being rushed to consideration by the State Committee on May 18 instead of waiting for the State Convention of June 8 to consider the issue, where it would be defeated.

We hope the members of the State Committee will stand up for the delegates to the Convention and say “No” to the proposal. We hope the State Committee will tell its members, “Quit trying to divide the party with proposed rule changes to restrict delegates, County Committees, and District Committees.


Attack on the Republican State Convention?

State Committeeman: RPA Proposed Rules Change Removes Local Control

Grassroots Reject RPA Preferred List

Attack on the Republican State Convention?

Washington Co. Republican Committee Passes Resolution Opposing RPA Proposed Rules Changes

Republicans Don’t Criticize Republicans

Lest we Forget

Grab Power or Share Power – Republican State Committee Meeting

Filing Fee Increase – Essential or Embarrassment?

Where Is Our Party Going?

“Point of Order!”

Republican State Convention “Yes.” State Committee “No”

So, tell me again, why I am a Republican? 

Pulaski Co. Republican Committee Member Discusses Delegates & State Convention

Pulaski County Delegates and the Republican State Convention

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