WASHINGTON -- Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has chosen a Benton native to serve as co-chairman of the party's credentials committee, helping to oversee battles over the delegate selection process.
Doyle Webb, an attorney and chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, will help lead the 112-member body when it meets in Cleveland, days before the Republican National Convention.
Webb is also chairman of the GOP's nine-member contests committee.
"I'm honored by the confidence that the national chairman has placed in me, and I'm even more honored that he would place confidence in a representative from the great state of Arkansas," Webb said in an interview Thursday.
A Republican National Committee official has compared the contests committee to a trial court and the credentials committee to an appeals court.
If a Republican believes the selection process was improper or that party rules were disregarded, he can file a challenge with the contests committee. The contests committee weighs the claims and reaches a decision in late June and early July. Those decisions can be appealed to the credentials committee, which meets in Cleveland a few days before the convention commences.
If Donald Trump had failed to capture a clear majority of GOP delegates, the 112 members would have been the focus of national and international attention. With the outcome now seemingly decided, the gatherings may be largely ceremonial.
Some years, challenges are plentiful. Others, they are rare.
In 2008, there were only three such disputes, Webb said. In 2012, however, there were 100 as Mitt Romney supporters vied with Ron Paul backers for seats on the convention floor.
The convention typically shows deference to the credentials committee's decisions, but delegates, ultimately, can have the final word.
In 1952, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Ohio Sen. Robert Taft showed up at the convention with competing claims of delegates.
Taft claimed that he had won control of several Southern delegations. Eisenhower said his backers were entitled to be seated.
The credentials committee, dominated by Taft supporters, sided with the Ohio candidate, but the convention ultimately overturned the committee's ruling and sided with the military hero, enabling him to win the nomination and, ultimately, the presidency.
Priebus could not be reached to discuss Webb's new role.
But John Ryder, the Republican National Committee's chief counsel, said the selection "reflects the tremendous confidence that chairman Priebus has in Doyle. Doyle has been one of the outstanding state chairmen in Republican politics throughout the country, and he has been a tremendous leader on the Republican National Committee."
Webb's legal background will be an asset, Ryder said.
"He's a lawyer, he's an experienced trial attorney, so he understands how to cut through the arguments that are being made and how to analyze the evidence that's being presented," Ryder said. "I can tell you from my personal experience with Doyle, he not only has the experience, but he has the judgment and temperament that you want in this position."
A Section on 06/10/2016
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