A Time magazine report suggested Thursday that the 50 delegates Donald Trump won in South Carolina’s winner-take-all primary could be at risk over comments he has made about breaking his pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee.
The story cites a comment from Matt Moore, the chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, who said a broken pledge “could put delegates in jeopardy.” However, Moore clarified after the story was published that there was no effort currently underway to take Trump’s delegates away from him.
Regarding delegate questions today: to be clear, no one is seeking to unbind ANY of South Carolina’s national delegates.
— Matt Moore (@MattMooreSC) March 31, 2016
“Breaking South Carolina’s presidential primary ballot pledge raises some unanswered legal questions that no one person can answer,” Moore had originally told Time. “However, a court or national convention Committee on Contests could resolve them. It could put delegates in jeopardy.”
According to Time, South Carolina is one of many states that require candidates to pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee in order to appear on the ballot. The Republican National Committee made Trump and other candidates sign a similar pledge last fall, in what was perceived at the time to be an effort to deter Trump from launching a third party run (The Time report noted that South Carolina’s loyalty pledge has been a requirement in the state for decades).
Trump is now leading the delegate count in the Republican presidential primary, but he also faces a campaign to block him from earning the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the GOP nomination outright at the national convention. He has thus renewed threats not to honor the RNC loyalty pledge, telling CNN this week that he no longer feels he is being treated fairly.
Trump has also recently been ramping up his campaign’s efforts to master the mechanics of delegate selection, which could prove pivotal if the Republican National Convention in July is in fact a brokered one.
Time reports that South Carolina has not selected its delegates yet, but does have a system that puts Trump at disadvantage. The state GOP requires its national convention delegates to be either delegates or alternates from the 2015 South Carolina GOP convention. Time reports those people are likely the Republican establishment types who would prefer an alternative to Trump in the event of a brokered convention.
A challenge that would unbind the South Carolina delegates from Trump over his pledge comments could only be filed once the delegates are chosen, the report noted.