NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Despite speculation the tumultuous GOP presidential primary would result in a brokered convention, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said Friday the chances of that happening are “very small,” pegging the odds of it not happening at 85 or 90 percent.
Preibus made the comments on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference in an interview with FOX News commentator Sean Hannity, who raised the issue of a brokered convention deciding the 2016 Republican presidential nominee instead of the usual process of Republicans expressing their choice in state primaries and caucuses.
The RNC chair said there’s “no way” delegates elected by Republican voters won’t decide the nominee and whomever the majority chooses “is going to be the nominee of our party.”
“A lot of this is early talk, and just so you understand, there are 1,237 delegates needed to the nominee of our party,” Priebus said. “There are 1,744 delegates left to be distributed. We have a long way to go. Everyone’s talking about Ohio and Florida, but between now and that day, there’s actually 14-and-a-half percent of all delegates to be distributed.”
Priebus concluded “the odds of a contested convention are very small.” The 2016 Republican National Convention is set to take place between July 18 to 21 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Hannity asked Priebus if he thinks Republican voters would be angry if the front-runner doesn’t get the nomination in the event of a contested convention. Priebus said the scenario would be “highly unlikely,” recalling nothing like that has happened since 1976 when then-candidate Ronald Reagan challenged former President Gerald Ford for the nomination.
Hannity raised the possibility of a universal system in which each state nominated a candidate, but Priebus dismissed the idea of the RNC “dictating to all the states and all the territories” the process.
Asked by Hannity for the odds of a contested convention, Priebus replied he’s 85 to 90 percent sure that won’t take place.
As the Republican establishment continues to express dissatisfaction with Trump, the idea of a brokered convention gained steam on Thursday when 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested voters should try to instigate one. Romney said voters in Florida should back Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and voters in Ohio should back Ohio Gov. John Kasich just as a majority of Texas Republicans voted for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
UPDATE: Kasich doesn’t share Priebus’s skepticism of a brokered convention taking place. Asked during a subsequent interview with Hannity whether he thinks the 2016 convention will be contested, Kasich said, “I do.”
“Could you think of anything cooler than a convention where we’re all going to learn about how America works and our kids in schools will learn more about American politics than the Kardashians?” Kasich said.
Kasich said a brokered convention should be “done right” and not “a bunch of people in smoked-filled who are the establishment” choosing the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. The candidate noted the convention will be held in his home state of Ohio, which he said will “be interesting.”
Even though he hasn’t won a single state in the Republican primary, Kasich said it’s possible for him to win the nomination through sheer number of delegates.
“After I win Ohio, I have to get 68 percent of the remaining delegates,” Kasich said. “Marco’s got to win like 64, Ted is somewhere around 59 or 60.”