Part of me thinks it would be well within GOP's rights to deny nomination to Trump at convention as long as they give to runner-up.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) March 30, 2016
Theorhetically, the governor of a state could pick electors out of a hat, without any election whatsoever, and it would be constitutional.
— Wyeth Ruthven (@wyethwire) March 30, 2016
We came close to this in 2000, when Florida legislature contemplated a special session to mandate pro-Bush electors.
— Wyeth Ruthven (@wyethwire) March 30, 2016
As discussed in a fascinating little T.A. Frank post in Vanity Fair:
… Because Ryan is so beloved by many inside the Beltway, some are suggesting that he parachute into a contested Republican convention—one in which Donald Trump fails to win the 1,237 delegates required on the first vote—and become the party’s nominee. “If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above,” said Ryan’s predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner, a couple of weeks ago. “I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.” Sure, Americans seem to be flirting with populism, but maybe what they really want deep down is upper-income tax cuts, Social Security private accounts, and more immigration? Add to that Ryan’s patented smile-frown of humble empathy, and he handily beats Hillary Clinton. It all makes sense…
…[A]t the convention, both the first and second ballots would have to flame out. If Trump failed to get a majority on the first ballot, that would free up only about 57 percent of the delegates, meaning 43 percent would still be committed to a candidate. The second round of voting would therefore still favor Trump or Cruz, both of whom would have also promised supporters wonderful things, and maybe, in Trump’s case, even cash, which, according to Bloomberg‘s Sasha Issenberg, is not illegal.
Things would therefore have to go to a third round, and any defection to Ryan would have to contend with howls of protest not just from Trump, Cruz, and John Kasich, but also from a huge chorus within the Republican establishment, including Senator Lindsey Graham, who has denounced those who “want to drop in their favorite candidate and then try to stifle the will of the people.” In sum, securing a Ryan nomination would be a costly challenge for even a cunning and brilliant establishment, let alone a bumbling and dimwitted one…
That Bloomberg post, “How to Steal a Nomination From Donald Trump”, is a fascinating read as well. But here’s the relevant quote regarding offering cash to delegates:
… There is nothing in the RNC’s rules that prohibits delegates from cutting a deal for their votes, and lawyers say it is unlikely that federal anti-corruption laws would apply to convention horse-trading. (It is not clear that even explicitly selling one’s vote for cash would be illegal.) To lure a governor, for example, the offer of a Cabinet post could be necessary, while a delegate may be swayed by a job as regional HUD administrator or a seat on the Postal Regulatory Commission. A crucial vote on a procedural question could be ensured with a state party’s website-design contract to a delegate’s cousin’s firm.
But why waste an ambassadorship on someone who could be bought for far less? Every delegate and alternate is already paying for individual travel costs to get to Cleveland. Most state parties tell delegates to expect to spend $3,000 out of pocket on airfare, hotel and meals, and for some it could prove an unexpected hardship. (Delegates are assigned hotels by state; some could end up paying for the La Quinta Inn, others stuck with a bill from the Ritz-Carlton.) As blogger Chris Ladd has noted, Trump’s slate in Illinois contains “a food service manager from a juvenile detention center, a daycare worker from a Christian School, an unemployed paralegal, a grocery store warehouse manager, one brave advocate for urban chicken farming, a dog breeder, and a guy who runs a bait shop.” Could some of them be tempted to flip their votes if a generous campaign, super-PAC, or individual donor picked up the costs of their week in Cleveland? Far-flung territories that are treated as states under RNC rules offer even richer opportunities for geographical arbitrage. Round-trip flights in July to Cleveland from the Northern Mariana Islands, which nine delegates are unbound after the first ballot, already cost more than $2,000 each…
Probably just as well that our convention in Philadelphia takes place the week after the RNC gathering in Cleveland — sounds like the Media Village Idiots will still be in recovery!