There is one word that describes the Republican delegate selection process in Pennsylvania: chaotic. Much proverbial ink has been spilt trying to decipher what might happen when the state’s Republican voters cast ballots on April 24 in the presidential preference primary and the delegate elections, but nothing definitive really can be written. If all four presidential candidates had filed a full slate of delegates in the 18 congressional districts, 216 delegate candidates would have been on the ballot. But only 184 delegate candidates actually filed to appear on the ballot.
At first it seems simple enough to understand. The state has a total of 72 delegates, 54 of whom will be elected on April 24—three at most out of each of the state’s congressional districts, plus five additional delegates awarded to the five best performing districts. Some delegates go to the convention by virtue of their office such as Gov. Corbett and Senator Toomey. So far so good! Now here’s where it gets chaotic. Delegates officially run unpledged, meaning they are not bound at the convention and are theoretically free agents there. Adding to the confusion, candidates appear on the ballot with no indication of support for a presidential candidate. There is therefore no legal relationship between the beauty contest at the top of the ticket—with Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, and Paul on the ballot—and the voting for delegates. We hear that Romney has the big names on the delegate ballots and that Santorum has grass roots support, but little that is helpful in clarifying the obvious confusion has appeared. READ MORE »