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Ga. GOPers caught in rules fight between neighboring states

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RNC Chairman Reince PriebusRepublican National Committee officials adopted stricter protocols at the group’s summer meeting this week in Florida to prevent another front-loaded presidential primary season, tailoring the 2016 calendar and delegate apportionment process to the party’s presumptive nominee.

Those states that leapfrog the four sacrosanct early nominating contests–Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada–will have their convention delegation slashed to only nine members, the minimum threshold for a state to attend and serve on convention committees.

The new measure is considerably stricter than the rules that governed the most recent primary contest in which rogue state delegations were only halved.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a member of the rules committee from which the new calendar restrictions sprang, said the deterrent was so severe it might compel future presidential hopefuls to avoid still-insolent states, even Florida.

“If you only have 12 delegates to the convention – it makes you wonder if candidates would go to Florida and spend five to ten million dollars to try to win the state for 12 delegates,” Kemp told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think it’s going to make people think long and hard about breaking the rules.”

Still, poor Georgia was caught in the middle as two neighboring states sparred over the change.

GOP elders in South Carolina introduced the new penalties in retaliation for Florida’s wayward 2012 primary scheduling, which Palmetto State Republicans said disrespected the state’s status as first-in-the-south.

Because Florida accelerated its own primary it lost half it’s delegation to the convention, but South Carolina was likewise penalized — it, compensating for a rushed Sunshine State primary, moved up its own date.

But the new calendar rule included a carve out for the four early contests, not penalizing the bunch for inching up their own races when they’ve been threatened by later ones.

- James Richardson