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Conservatives, still reeling over the looming nomination of Donald Trump, are pushing new Republican primary rules that might have prevented the mogul’s victory in the first place: shutting out independents and Democrats from helping to pick the GOP nominee.
Trump romped in “open primaries” where non-Republicans voted by the thousands and may have influenced the outcome — especially in early states that set the tone of the entire race. Trump’s most successful rival, Ted Cruz, thrived in states with closed primaries where only Republicans were permitted to participate.
Now, Cruz’s allies — hundreds of supportive convention delegates that he helped elect — hope to use the national convention in Cleveland to shove states toward closing their open primaries. And if they’re successful, it will not only go a long way toward warding off a Trump-like candidacy, it will tilt the primary toward conservative candidates in 2020 and beyond.
The advocates are finding a sympathetic ear at the very top of the party. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has long supported closed primaries, but has never had a constituency to back him on it. "I believe that only Republicans should vote in Republican primaries," he said Friday at a Politico Playbook breakfast event, though he added that he respects the right of states to set their own primary rules.
The Empire Strikes Back!