Part 18 of the "Post-Constitutional Election" series is here.
Curly Haugland is an unbound RNC delegate from Bismarck, North Dakota, and a member of the national convention rules committee. He is also something of a regular on cable, especially CNBC, where, in the calmest of tones, Curly will explain that ours is a nation of delegates, not voters -- at least as far as the GOP presidential nominating process goes.
To be sure, Curly doesn't know why his party even bothers to hold primaries. It's not that the contests are completely irrelevant -- the delegates "use the primaries to get some kind of an indication of the preference of the population" -- but, as Curly puts it, "the delegates at the convention choose the nominee, not the voters."
Bismarckian delusions of grandeur? Not according to the rules, this veteran GOP committeeman says, crashing assumptions about the democratic process. As he tells it, it's all up to a couple of thousand Curlies.
Is this a dream? A lost episode of "The Prisoner"? An outtake from High Noon? It's hard to know what to make of Curly and his rulebook, who, despite nearly two decades as a committeeman, doesn't appear to have emerged as a pitchman for delegate-power before. Has he really just taken a wrong turn out of the midwest onto a cable news set while looking for directions to the smoke-filled room?
Curly says that once he gets to Cleveland, he will be introducing an amendment at the convention rules committee for the delegates to consider every presidential contender who has won even one single delegate. This, Curly says, would place eight candidates on the convention's first ballot.
Something's going on, and what do you know but maybe it didn't start in Bismarck.