Every delegate matters at the Republican National Convention July 18-21 in Cleveland, and Doyle Webb, Republican Party of Arkansas chairman, will help decide which ones actually count.
Webb has been appointed chair of the eight-member Contest Committee by Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman. The committee will decide questions over which delegates and delegations can be seated in the weeks leading up to the convention. Webb served as a committee member in 2012.
The position could be critical in this year’s presidential election. Unless Donald Trump can reach the required 1,237 majority of delegates, then the convention will be contested. Trump, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are jockeying for delegates.
Webb said he didn’t know how many challenges the committee will have to decide. In 2008, three delegates were affected. In 2012, 100 were. Its decisions can be appealed to the full Credentials Committee.
Webb said delegates and entire delegations can be challenged. In one previous instance, for example, a state failed to determine who was entitled to vote. In another, a state had elected two slates at different times, and the committee had to determine which one could be seated.
“In past years, we’ve actually had two sets of state delegates in the convention town waiting to hear what our decision is,” he said.
Webb said the committee normally spends 2-3 weeks before the convention deciding the challenges. It follows strict procedures and makes decisions based on a particular state’s election laws, state party rules, and parliamentary procedure. It is not involved in delegate disputes once the convention begins.
“Our role ends as the convention gavels in,” he said.
Webb was reached in Hollywood, Fla., Thursday at the RNC’s Spring Meeting, where the Contest Committee met for the first time that day and held an orientation for new members.
The committee is composed of two RNC members from each of the party’s four regions. Webb is the only Arkansan and said he believed he was one of two attorneys.