On the Delegate Selection Process in Tennessee

Fifty-five Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention will be chosen in Tuesday’s statewide voting, while the state’s 91 delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be chosen through a convention procedure.
Republicans thus have several potential decisions to make on the statewide ballot as they choose between both presidential candidates and delegates.
Democrats on the other hand have only one candidate on the presidential primary ballot — Barack Obama — and no delegate decisions.
In the GOP process, 55 of the 58 total Tennessee delegates will be bound to vote on the first two convention ballots for a designated presidential candidate. The three exceptions are state Chairman Chris Devaney, National Committeeman John Ryder and National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert — all who get their delegate slots automatically by virtue of their position. Under party rules, they are free to vote for anyone they wish.

Twenty-eight delegates will be go to the convention bound to candidates based on the results of Tuesday’s voting statewide voting.
The 27 other delegates will be allocated on the basis of Tuesday’s results at the congressional district level — three delegates for each of the state’s nine congressional districts.
Unlike some “winner-takes-all” states, Tennessee Republicans allocate delegates to candidates generally on a proportional basis depending on primary voting results — but that can have some quirks.
Here’s how the allocation of statewide delegates works under party rules: To win all 28 at-large delegates, a candidate must win 66 percent of the statewide vote, which polling indicates is highly unlikely on Tuesday. But it’s still possible to win all delegates with a smaller percentage, conceivably as low as 20.1 percent.
Assuming no candidate meets the 66 percent requirement, the statewide delegates are allocated proportionally among candidates getting at least 20 percent of the vote. But if only one candidate cracks the 20 percent mark, and the others are below that threshold, he would get all the 28 statewide delegates, said Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party.
The rules are similar in each congressional district. If a candidate wins 66 percent of the vote in a given district, he gets all three of that district’s delegates. If no one gets 66 percent, then the plurality winner gets two delegates and the runnerup one — provided the runnerup has at least 20 percent of the district’s vote. If the runnerup is under 20 percent, then the plurality winner gets all three delegates in that district.
Of the 28 statewide delegates, 14 are elected by voters on Super Tuesday and 14 will be appointed by the Republican State Executive Committee. The latter will typically be elected officials — Gov. Bill Haslam, for example, is virtually assured of one of the appointed slots.
Mitt Romney is the only candidate to have delegates committed to him running for all 14 statewide delegate positions and all 27 congressional district positions — though Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul both have a substantial number of committee delegates on Tuesday’s ballot.
A voter may can pick up to 14 statewide “at large” delegates to support on the ballot and can vote for up to three delegates for the congressional district level.
When the results are in, the candidate results will be matched up against the voting for delegates. For example, if Romney is entitled seven statewide delegates based on primary results, the top seven delegate candidates committed to him win the delegate seats.
Rick Santorum, the leader in most recent Tennessee polls, has no delegate candidates on the ballot. Assuming he wins delegates in the voting, however, the state party will appoint delegates to represent him after consulting with the campaign and gaining Santorum’s approval of the delegates.
Democrats chose their delegates to the party’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., in a series of meetings. Fifty-three are chosen at congressional district level conventions, to be held March 24, and 18 “at large” delegates selected at a state Democratic Executive Committee meeting March 31. Also, 11 elected officials will be named as delegates at the March 31 meeting.
The remaining nine Tennessee delegates are “super delegates” who are designated by the Democratic National Committee based on the party position they hold.

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