TAMPA – When the convention starts here on Tuesday, the delegates will launch into the task of casting their votes to select the Republican Party’s nominee. There is little suspense over who will get the honor – Mitt Romney has already won the number needed – leaving the only bit of uncertainty over which state will get the honor.
Could it be his native Michigan? Perhaps Massachusetts, the state he built his business career, raised his family, and governed for four years? Maybe Utah, where he spent time working on the Winter Olympics? Or a swing state he hopes to carry in November?
Russ Schriefer, the Romney adviser overseeing much of the convention planning, was asked on a conference call late Monday afternoon whether Massachusetts would get the honor.
“We’re going to go straight alphabetical order,” he said, just before ending the call.
A spokesman for the convention, Kyle Downey, reiterated that was the plan. When asked which state would be putting Romney over the top, he said, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
But it appears there are no plans to follow what past conventions have done, and orchestrate the vote tally so that a particular state gets the honor of casting the final vote.
In 2008, for example, Arizona passed on its first vote. Later, once the tally got close, organizers went back to Arizona and the state was able to put Senator John McCain over the top (Texas put George H.W. Bush over the top in 1988 and 1992, and Kansas did the same for Bob Dole in 1996). In 2004, Senator John Kerry chose Ohio – a key swing state – while President George W. Bush chose Pennsylvania.
If they go in straight alphabetical order, and all of the delegates vote for Romney, then Missouri would be the state to put Romney over the top.
Romney would have 1,096 delegates after Mississippi cast its votes. Then, Missouri’s 52 delegates would give Romney 1,148 votes – four more than the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination.
Depending on how many votes are cast for Representative Ron Paul, another state could get the honor. But it won’t be Massachusetts, which will have already been passed over if the campaign continues with its approach to do the vote in “straight alphabetical order.”