TAMPA – A move to change the way America elects its president got a clear thumbs down in a vote by members of the Republican National Committee on Friday.
A resolution opposing the National Popular Vote initiative won support of every voting RNC member but one who voted “present” instead of “yes.”
“The popular vote initiative is an attempt to solve a problem we don’t have, but it will create problems we don’t want,” said Tennessee RNC member John Ryder. The problem initiative supporters cite is that a candidate who wins the national popular vote can lose — and has lost — the electoral college vote and therefore the presidency.
Mr. Ryder delivered one of more than a dozen impassioned speeches by RNC members against the initiative before a roll-call vote insisted on by members who wanted to be on the record with their opposition.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other officials said their aim was to send a message to state legislatures around the country that that the GOP is dead set against switching to a national popular vote to elect the president and unalterably opposed to ditching the Constitution’s mandate for an electoral college vote count to decide presidential elections.
The nation’s founders regarded the regional, urban-suburban, small state-big state balance as guaranteed by the electoral college as essential for the functioning of the kind of republic they wanted to create, according to those who want to preserve the electoral college.
The initiative has been gaining momentum in state legislatures at what for opponents is an alarming rate, with Republican lawmakers being told top officials of the RNC support it.
Members’ emotion against abandoning the electoral college was running so high that dozens of members lined up behind two microphones to give individual 10-minute impassioned arguments against the initiative.
Michigan RNC member Saul Anuzis, the leader of the small group on the national commnittee supporting the popular vote change, told The Washington Times that he and five others on the national committee had “expressed that support and at least 20 were open and undecided, but not willing to take any hits for something they didn’t care that much about.”
Mr. Anuzis saw a bright side in the resounding defeat of his cause.
“It’s now on everyone’s radar and that’s good,” Mr. Anuzis said in an email after having left the Marriott Tampa Waterside ballroom before the vote on the resolution, telling people on his way out that he had a plane to catch.