Ben Carson’s Threat: I’ll Leave GOP

Republican candidate Ben Carson threatened Friday to leave the GOP, apparently not happy with the possibility of a brokered convention suggested by the Republican National Committee earlier in the week.

According to the Washington Post, Committee Chairman Reince Priebus held a private dinner Monday night for close to two dozen influential Republican members. Much of the discussion revolved around how to control the delegation selection process and the possibility that anti-establishment candidate Donald Trump may be bring a large number of delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. A plan to support an alternative candidate may be in the works in case a brokered convention is necessary.

Several longtime Republican power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Priebes were fairly quiet throughout the discussion, they did agree that the party needed to be prepared for a deadlocked convention.

A brokered convention occurs in a situation in which no candidate has won enough delegates during the presidential primaries to win on the first ballot. Then the nomination happens through negotiation and political deals within the party. Repeated votes are taken until one candidate receives the needed majority of delegates.

It’s a rare event. The last Republican brokered convention occurred in 1948, during which it took three floor votes to elect New York Governor Thomas Dewey. The Democrats had theirs in 1952. According to The Week, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson had not even considered being a nominee, but was elected as a compromise candidate after three ballots.

Carson Objects to Manipulation by GOP

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson objected to the discussion by the Republican Party members, reported Politico.

If the leaders of the Republican Party want to destroy the party, they should continue to hold meetings like the one described in the Washington Post this morning.

Republican candidate Rand Paul agreed with Carson.

“If the establishment tries to block an outsider from winning the nomination, there’ll be war within the party, and they’ll destroy the party,” the Kentucky senator warned, adding that if voters’ efforts are “thwarted” there will be a “real problem.”

Carson went on to indicate he does not want the Republican leaders to manipulate the election process.

…every voter who is standing for change must know they are being betrayed. I won’t stand for it…I assure you, Donald Trump won’t be the only one leaving the party.

This statement by Carson has been interpreted as a threat to leave the GOP. According to Outside The Beltway, Carson said Friday that he did not plan on running as an independent, although he did not indicate that he would drop out of the race if he decided to leave the Republican Party.

I’ll leave that to you to speculate.

Newsplex reports that Carson did take a pledge not to run third-party, according to Carson’s Communication Director Doug Watts.

The pledge isn’t meaningless. But he signed the pledge based on everybody playing by the rules.

If either Trump or Carson or both leave and decide to run third-party, the effects could be devastating on the GOP. Even taking a few percentage points from the Republican nominee could split the conservative vote, making it impossible for that nominee to win the general election.

The earliest deadline for an independent presidential nominee to get on a ballet is in Texas on May 9. By then, we will know whether Ben Carson makes good on his threat to leave the GOP.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]