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Ginsberg’s move at the convention was an ill-advised, candidate-driven power grab, and Morton’s outrage is well justified,” said David Norcross, who like Mr. Ginsberg served as an RNC general counsel.

Mr. Priebus has been noncommittal, telling The Times in an email that the RNC “Rules Committee is working on many issues surrounding the primary calendar and debate process. And this is one of them.”

The rule at issue spells out the penalties for a state that holds a presidential nomination contest before April 1. The fear of two penalties keeps most states in line. One such punishment removes a state’s power to award all its convention delegates to a candidate who wins the most votes in a primary. Dividing delegates proportionally among candidates weakens the state’s influence on the voters in states whose primaries follow. The other punishment reduces a calendar violating state’s delegation to half strength. Absent these penalties, large states can be expected to elbow one another to the front of the primaries calendar line. California and the six next biggest states could decide the Republican Party nominee on a single day in March 2016.

The word change Mr. Ginsberg engineered in August 2012 changed a state’s absolute right to pick its own delegates to the conditional “may.” The change initially left some RNC members who had just voted for it worried that they opened the door for Mr. Romney to pick his own delegates for the nationally televised roll call, casting aside delegates picked by the states. At the time, Mr. Romney’s team wanted a convention full of unanimity, without dissenters from the camps of former rivals Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. In the end, it was determined that the rules would affect only 2016 and beyond.

But the fight and the fact that the rule remains in effect have remained thorns for some of the party’s more conservative activists, who often take a dim view of what they call the party “establishment” and its political wisdom.

Morton is right on the rule change and right in the perception that Ginsberg’s rules changes were nothing but an overreaching power grab on behalf of our party’s ‘establishment,’” said Mrs. McLarty, a founding member of the RNC’s Conservative Caucus.

Former Iowa GOP Chairman Kayne Robinson suggests the impending battle is as much about Mr. Ginsberg’s style as it is the rules fight.

Ginsberg is a well-known bully who loves to intimidate people,” Mr. Robinson said.

Of course, when it came to bullying liberals and Democrats, Republicans in past elections didn’t seem to mind that much.

Ben has always been steady, wise, tough and loyal throughout everything from the Florida recount and four different presidential campaigns. I always feel good looking over and seeing him on my side during a political fight,” said Matt Rhoades, Mr. Romney’s 2012 campaign manager.

Added Mississippi RNC member Henry Barbour, “Ben is the go-to lawyer for Republican federal campaigns. Anyone running for president would do well to have him on their team.”