- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 2, 2009

SAN DIEGO | Before wrapping up the four-day annual summer meeting of the Republican National Committee, members debated changing the 2012 GOP presidential primary schedule - something for the first time in their history they can actually do on their own, without approval of the more than 2,000 delegates who attend the quadrennial Republican National Convention.

“Any change we make will have to be approved by two-thirds of the RNC members, so there will have to be a solid consensus that satisfies big and small states,” said former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, who is a member of the ad hoc “delegate selection committee” that will continue hashing over ways to head off the perceived slide toward a one-day national primary that would, in theory, benefit candidates with more money and greater name recognition.

Last year, members at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., voted to give the RNC power over the schedule.

A final proposal for the primary schedule is expected to be presented for approval at the annual winter RNC meeting of its 168 members in January in Washington.

The state party chairmen and elected national committeemen and women from 50 states and six U.S. territories who assembled in San Diego were successful in making some national GOP policy, enacting resolutions condemning President Obama’s health care reform goals as “further marching toward socialism.”

RNC members also put their party on record as opposing the Obama-backed cap on greenhouse-gas emissions and the proposed trading of emission allotments as a “tax that greatly exceeds any benefits.”

Other resolutions enacted include one that requires their national chairman, Michael S. Steele, to have the treasurer or other top officers sign off on any contracts worth more than $100,000 or on loans he seeks for the RNC.

Though once opposed to the resolution as interfering with his prerogatives as chairman, Mr. Steele worked out compromise language with the framers and the resolution passed without objection or vitriol.

RNC members unanimously approved Mr. Steele’s choice for RNC finance director, former ambassador Peter Terpeluk Jr. His was the last major position that had gone unfilled since Mr. Steele’s election as chairman over four other contenders in January.

“This means the chairman’s team is now complete, and we can move toward the 2010 elections,” said RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen.

Mr. Steele did not get his national committee to approve the creation of something brand-new in the RNC committee structure: a standing committee on ethics.

Some members objected it would be filled with members loyal or beholden to Mr. Steele and would not therefore represent the “check and balances” members wanted or achieve the “transparency” Mr. Steele promised to provide when he campaigned for chairman.

Mr. Steele listened to members’ objections from the floor, took their points and quickly acceded to their wishes to postpone consideration of such a committee.

Mr. Steele did win approval for Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, a friend and staunch supporter during the chairman’s election, as RNC general counsel. Mr. Priebus is generally liked and trusted by the RNC membership.

• Ralph Z. Hallow can be reached at rhallow@gmail.com.

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