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The Republican nomination process may be flipped on its head if a proposed amendment is passed just days before the convention, an amendment that is showing some support among party members.
Curly Haugland, a member of the GOP's standing rules committee, sent a letter to all GOP presidential campaigns and Republican National Committee members in November that he plans to present an amendment that essentially will allow any candidate who received a delegate to be placed back on the first ballot.
That means even candidates who have dropped out of the race could be considered for the nomination.
"There will be eight candidates on the first ballot for the 2016 nomination for president," said Haugland, an unbound North Dakota delegate. "Those candidates worked very hard to win their delegates, and the voter deserves to have their vote count."
Haugland's amendment would replace Rule 40, which was passed during the 2012 convention that made it mandatory for any candidate who sought the GOP nomination to have the support of the majority of the convention delegates in eight states or more.
But Haugland said of his proposal: "This amendment would do the best job of honoring the votes of every voter participating in primaries or caucuses, because every vote that resulted in the allocation of a delegate to a candidate would be represented at the convention."
And Haugland has allies.
"Curly is right on this.The delegates have the power and ultimate authority in nominating the candidate. Not Priebus (RNC Chairman Reince Priebus) and the RNC," said A.J. Spiker, past state chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa and former senior advisor to Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign. "The delegates can write any rule they want and pass it. They have that power. It's really a lie the Democrat and Republican establishments have pushed that the caucuses and primaries mean something. They don't. Just like the Electoral College decides who is the next president. It's the delegates who decide who the nominee is."
Haugland tells CNBC he did not write this amendment because he is "anti-Trump." It's about fairness and eliminating the big money influence in the nomination process. Haugland said the RNC lusts for money and is "hooked" on the primary process. "Big money wins primaries, and the RNC is selling these primaries and caucuses like commodities. We're talking about a half a billion dollars being spent in these contests. The money is going into the pockets of pollsters, pundits. ... It's not right."
The RNC declined to comment to CNBC.
"The whole nomination process has been put on super steroids." agreed Gary Emineth, former chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party and an unbound delegate. "Curly's correct in that the process has been hijacked by big donor money and has broken away from the grass-roots movement. I can see why he wrote this amendment. We have become a party of special interests and money. People are buying their way into office and they are blowing off the grass-roots organization which is what the Republican Party was built on. The party of Abraham Lincoln started out with people walking door to door and neighbor to neighbor encouraging people to join a philosophical belief to change their city, state, county and country."
Haugland stressed to CNBC,the rules to receiving the nomination are straight-forward, "There is no winner take all. No 1237. Republican rules forbid that. The nomination power rests in the hands of the delegates."
Riker agreed, saying the rules give the delegates the ultimate authority in deciding who the nominee would be, not the primary results, "If Trump fails to get the delegates by one delegate or even if he gets the so-called 'magic number,' the delegates can get together and throw him off the ballot if they wanted," Riker said. "If Trump is short that number I can guarantee you Trump will not get the nomination. He won't make it past the second ballot because he does not have the ground game at the convention."
But delegates like Diana Orrock from Nevada, who support Trump, believe he will prevail and secure the nomination even if the amendment is passed, "No doubt the RNC would like to have the lesser candidates have a way to get back in the mix because they haven't supported Donald Trump from the get-go. It is really unfortunate because he has been the consistent front-runner since the first debate in August."
Emineth agrees with Orrock that anti-Trumpers would see this amendment as an opportunity to block Trump and if the amendment passed, the damage to the Republican Party would take decades to heal. "The Republican Party would be dead for at least 20 years. We will see riots in the streets. It would take a while for the party to recover as memories fade."
Haugland disagreed, stressing what's ripping the RNC apart is the two camps of supporters within the organization — those who want the primaries to choose the nominee and those who believe it's the delegates at the convention who choose the nominee. "The rules require the delegates to choose the nominee. Not the primaries or caucuses. I am a rules guy. Rules are rules. When in session, the GOP convention is the highest authority of the Republican Party. People don't understand that. All rules are up for consideration."