Former Gov. Mitt Romney’s win in Illinois Tuesday put his total delegate count at about 560, nearly halfway to the 1,144 delegates required to secure the GOP presidential nomination. At this point in the race it is impossible for any of the other candidates—former Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul—to reach that golden number. Therefore their only hope is to block Romney from getting there, which could result in a brokered convention. In such a case, after a first vote at the Tampa convention fails to pick a candidate, delegates would be freed to get behind someone else in the following votes until a nominee is selected. In fact, the other candidates have discussed how a brokered convention could work in their favors. “There are a couple of different ways it could play,” Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren. Speaking to Charlie Rose, Rick Santorum said, “We believe that if we get to the convention, Charlie, that the convention will nominate a conservative. They will not nominate the establishment moderate candidate from Massachusetts.” Even Ron Paul, who trails the pack in delegate count, is optimistic about the prospect of a brokered convention. “The second go-around, they can go with their conscience,” he told Jay Leno. “Then, I believe, we’ll get a lot of the votes.”
However, is such a possibility even realistic? Though Romney has stumbled in the South among evangelical voters, his campaign machine has proven superior in battleground states like Ohio and Michigan. Furthermore, the solid win in Illinois brings Romney more momentum, media attention, and money. The Romney camp has brushed off suggestions that the race will come down to Tampa, but that doesn’t mean Gingrich, Santorum, or Paul will drop out any time soon. Can they realistically force Romney into a brokered convention? Here is the Debate Club’s take:
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Professor at Hunter College
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Ron Bonjean Former Chief of Staff for the Senate Republican Conference