Today there is much discussion about the use of the Brokered Convention and some see it as a way to steal a nomination from a person that the political party feels is unworthy to represent the party.  In fact, the rules are clear as to what actually constitutes a brokered convention.  In the early years of the conventions the many states sent their delegates “uninstructed” to the conventions.  This meant that they were free to vote for whomever they felt would be the best candidate.  The United States has come a long way since those early days and rules are in place to help to identify how to select a candidate if a certain percentage of delegates do not cast votes for a specific candidate.  Then the selection of the candidate is brokered.  In the early Democratic conventions a candidate had to receive a 2/3 majority of votes from the convention delegates to be considered the winner of the nomination.  This changed in 1936 with the number of candidates becoming a simple majority.

While a brokered selection of a candidate is not liked by a party due the negative impact to the election process, it is a method to select the presidential candidate.  It has been a while since this was required; however, America did come close.  In 1968 Bobby Kennedy had won most of the primaries but did not have enough delegates.  An assassin’s bullet eliminated the need for a brokered selection.  The Democratic Party came close again in 2008 with the  race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  A last minute delegate vote sent Hillary to the side lines and Barak Obama to the White House without a brokered selection.

The Republicans have not been immune to close calls either.  John McCain and Mitt Romney were headed for a brokered convention until Romney dropped from the race.  Gerald Ford and Ronald Regan also were near a brokered selection.

This is not a normal political year and as messed up as this seems it is slightly refreshing to see something new going on in American politics.  The one thing that is mandatory is that whoever is selected to run for office must be selected in a manner that is legitimate and with the least indication of a rigged process.

2016 displays how the nomination for the president of the United States is made.  Each state either holds a caucus or selection vote that determines which candidate will receive delegate votes at the national convention.  The delegate votes from a specific state can be either divided among candidates based on the number of votes casts by the state voters or it can be a winner take all state.  In a winner take all state the winner of the most votes will receive all of the delegate votes and not a proportion of the votes.  The state political party determines the method to use.

Today’s election displays an ire by the voters that have a problem with the centralized ole boy club in Washington.  It is felt that the direction of the country comes from a few power brokers that are directing how the company will be run.  Whether true or not the perception is there. In Louisiana in 1928, it was definitely there and it took a floor fight on the Democratic convention floor to determine who would represent Louisiana at the convention.

In 1928 Huey Long was the new governor and was not taken seriously by the political power brokers in New Orleans, the Ole Regulars.   At that time some delegates were selected by vote but a large number were selected by the strength of the state political party.  The Ole Regulars was the key party, was newly elected governor Huey Long’s adversary, and thought they had bought him off two weeks earlier.  Normally the delegate list is delivered to the governor and the governor would sign the list approving the delegates.  Long had his aide and head of the Louisiana Democratic Party investigate this.  The law did not identify how delegates were to be selected so Long selected his own delegation based on state law.  The Long delegation went to the convention as did the delegation that had been selected by the New Orleans Ole Regulars.  After a fight on the floor of the convention between Carter Glass and the Long aide, Long’s delegation was seated.  Part of this was the result of a deal between Long’s aide and the political activist from New York, Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the reasons for the seating of the Long delegation was to wrestle control away from the power brokers and place it more into the hands of the citizens.  Only in this case it changed ownership from the Ole Regulars to the Long political machine.

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