Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/GOP brokered convention


QUESTION: As a GOP brokered convention appears possible at this point, I am wondering WHO exactly could be nominated if this happens, besides obviously the remaining candidates?

A writer on Vox.com said that primary losers like Jeb Bush are ineligible but I had never heard that and it didn't sound right.

But seems to me if ANYONE can run they'd be faced with a huge mess to sort out on the floor.

ANSWER: If no candidate receives a majority on the first ballot, the delegates may vote for whomever they want.  They could pick one of the other candidates from the race, or anyone else.  I've heard Mitt Romney's name proposed, even though he is not campaigning at all this year.  Jeb Bush would certainly be eligible if the delegates want him.  Heck, they could even pick Hillary Clinton (though that seems unlikely).

If you want a precedent for this, take a look at the convention that nominated James Garfield.  Garfield was a low level Congressman from Ohio.  He was not running for President and, in fact, gave a speech at the convention nominating someone else.  The Convention was hopelessly divided between factions that did not want to support the other factions' candidates under any circumstances.  Finally, after days of voting and 35 ballots, Garfield was supported as compromise candidate and won the nomination.

Delegates are required to remain with their bound candidate on the first ballot.  After that, they can vote for whomever they wish.  There is no restriction on who they support after the first ballot.

I have written more extensively about the primary and convention process in my political blog.  If you are interested, you can read by blog: Arm Chair Politics here:


- Mike

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Read your post and agree 100%. I'm a Democrat but also a political junkie and it's fascinating to see this civil war play out.

If Trump gets to the convention with many more delegates than anyone else but not the magic number I don't see how the GOP can take it from him without causing a revolt or a third party run. Compared to those horrible alternatives giving him the nomination might be their least bad option.

For the sake of argument can you think of anyone besides Romney and Paul Ryan who didn't run this year but is a plausible nominee at a brokered convention?

A third party run by Trump becomes difficult after the Convention.  By that time, it is too late to get a third party candidate on the ballot.  I think you are correct that a brokered convention would be a disaster.  If Trump had a plurality but not a majority and was denied the nomination, Trump supporters would likely stay home in large numbers rather than vote in the general election.

I cannot really think of anyone to nominate outside of the candidates who have already run or the discussions of Ryan or Romney.  The only other person with serious national name recognition is Mitch McConnell, who I think lacks the charisma to run for President.  Perhaps Gov. Rick Scott or Nikki Haley, but that is getting into some crazy, outside the box thinking.  More likely, you might see a coaltion, such as Ted Cruz as President and Marco Rubio or John Kasich as VP.

But fantasy scenarios aside, Trump remains the favorite.  If Trump continues to get the numbers he has been getting, once we hit the winner take all primaries beginning March 15, he should be able to reach the majority of delegates well before the convention.

Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

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