It’s been almost a rallying cry amongst some conservatives, who believe that the Republican Field hasn’t had any “true” conservatives. (For the record, I disagree…I think there are two solid conservatives and a libertarian who is far closer to conservative than most moderate Republicans.) Yet as long as we have both Gingrich and Santorum in this race splitting the conservative vote, the possibility of a brokered convention exists.
So what exactly is a “brokered convention?” To win the Republican nomination, a candidate needs to receive at least 1,144 delegates. If no candidate receives that magic number of delegates, it then falls to the total field of delegates to nominate a candidate. There are a series of ballots cast. The first ballot is the vote of the pledged delegates are released from their obligation to vote for the candidate who they were pledged to support. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL that means Mitt Romney delegates no longer need to vote for Romney, Ron Paul delegates no longer need to vote for Paul, etc).
Here’s the thing: A brokered convention isn’t limited to those who are currently in the field. The reality is any Republican of legal age and of natural born citizenship is eligible to be nominated once the convention becomes brokered. So go ahead and put on your Happy Imagination Hat for a minute and let your minds fantasize about who could be drafted as the Republican nominee in a brokered convention. Paul Ryan? Sarah Palin? Chris Christie? Bobby Jindal? (Legitimate shiver of excitement) Marco Rubio? Sure, these are all possibilities.
Of course, those who are screaming for a brokered convention as a route to a more conservative candidate are missing the other possibility: that the GOP establishment picks a wimpier, more moderate establishment candidate and nominates someone like a Jeb Bush (talk about a gift to Obama…he’s already going to run against Bush anyway, so if the opponent’s name is genuinely Bush, I can only imagine).
More importantly, friends, and here’s the reality of history: Brokered Conventions in the past have tended to choose from the existing field of candidates. Chances are good that we’re going to be looking at Mittens, Santorum, or Gingrich either way. Usually you end up with a “compromise candidate,” but I have no idea who that compromise would be. Clearly the first ballot vote will almost certainly be between Romney and Santorum. Gingrich is hardly a compromise between the two, and Ron Paul isn’t going to be nominated by the Republican Party.
As we sit now, a brokered convention remains unlikely, but it could be less unlikely than any time since 1976 in the Republican Party. As a history buff I consider it a fascinating possibility. As a conservative, I would love to see a Sarah Palin or a Paul Ryan or (insert conservative here) win over Mittens. I’d also like to see Santorum or Gingrich win over Mittens. Most importantly I want to see ANY REPUBLICAN defeat Obama. A brokered convention? Good idea in a perfect world. But I don’t live in a perfect world. I live in the Real World.