Following the announcement of Dan Harrop’s withdrawal as a candidate in the contentious race for Rhode Island Republican Party chairman, some question arose as to the move’s significance. The evening before, the RIGOP’s Credentials Committee had ruled to dismiss Harrop’s complaints about registration irregularities in a prior vote that he lost by one and that was deemed invalid at the State Central Committee meeting last week, but reinstated by party leadership on Sunday.
With the announcement of that ruling yesterday morning, many in the news media concluded that the issue had been settled, making Harrop’s withdrawal in the evening largely without effect. In general, the parliamentary rules by which all meetings (but especially political meetings) are conducted provide many opportunities for appeals and maneuvers to change outcomes that subcommittees and officials bring about. At the end of the day, a faction that controls the floor by a significant margin can usually achieve its goals.
More specifically to the RIGOP, a source inside the party tells me:
When the meeting was recessed (not adjourned) the announcement was that the election was void. When the chairman announces the results next Tuesday, a motion could be made to overturn the ruling of the chairman and that could be voted on — so to overturn the election. At least two town chairs were planning this. In addition, the report of the Credentials Committee could be overturned, which would strengthen a legal case. In addition, even though the Credentials Committee found against [Harrop], because the RIGOP is a quasi-public agency (with rights written into state law), he could sue in the courts for relief, including the option of an emergency injunction — you could not do that with a private organization, but an allegation that state laws have been violated in the selection of delegates allows access to the courts (and the mechanism for doing this is in state statues, not our bylaws, and not subject to our Credentials Committee rulings).