Gingrich to Challenge Florida Delegates


GOP presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich campaigns in Columbia, South Carolina on Friday, December 23, 2011. Gingrich attended a luncheon town hall at Blue Marlin that was sponsored by the restaurant’s owner. Gingrich took questions and later held a press availability.

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By Joe Johns, CNN Senior Correspondent

Newt Gingrich’s campaign said Thursday they were requesting the Republican National Committee award delegates from Florida based on a proportion of the vote rather than allocating all of the state’s delegates to Mitt Romney, who won Tuesday’s primary.

Newt Gingrich’s campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond confirmed the campaign’s request Thursday.

Under RNC rules, Florida was stripped of half its delegates when it moved up its primary date to January 31, early in the nominating calendar. The RNC also stipulates any state holding a primary before April 1 must allocate delegates proportionally, rather than a winner-take-all scenario.

That rule states: “Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.”

*GALLERY BELOW: A collection of GOP presidential race photographs from CNN.

On Wednesday evening, the RNC issued a memo to members explaining they had already imposed the maximum penalty on Florida by stripping them of delegates for moving their primary date. The memo stated the RNC “does not have the authority to intervene in a state’s primary plans beyond the imposition of the Rule 16 penalties.” Rule 16 is the provision that stripped Florida of their delegates when they moved up the calender.

Instead, any change to the delegate allocation would have to come after a formal petition from the campaign to the delegate committee in Tampa, site of the 2012 Republican convention.

“All of the penalties authorized under the Rules have been imposed on Florida,” RNC General Counsel Bill Crocker and John Ryder, Chairman of the RNC Presidential Nominating Schedule, wrote.

Crocker and Ryder also explained the process for challenging Florida’s delegate allocation.

“A contest procedure exists for challenges to a state’s delegation or delegates,” Crocker and Ryder wrote in the memo. “The RNC cannot consider any issue regarding Florida’s delegation unless and until a proper contest is brought. If a contest is properly and timely filed, the Committee on Contests and the RNC will have the opportunity to hear the contest and determine if there are any further steps to be taken beyond the penalties that have already been imposed.”

Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, said Thursday all candidates knew how Florida’s delegates would be awarded since the state GOP voted in September.

“All campaigns and the RNC have known since then that Florida was winner take all. RNC’s legal counsel has, on numerous occasions, noted their understanding and acceptance of Florida’s rule,” Curry said in a statement. “Florida was winner take all before Election Day, we were winner take all on Election Day, we will remain winner take all.”

He added, “It is a shame when the loser of a contest agrees to the rules before, then cries foul after losing.”

CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley and Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

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