Donald Trump still has a chance to capture the Republican presidential nomination on the first ballot at the party’s national convention this summer, thanks in part to his commanding victory in New York on Tuesday.
Unlike past GOP nominees, however, he might not have carte blanche to pick his running mate.
Delegates at the convention in Cleveland will vote separately on the nominations for president and vice president, and there is a key difference in the rules governing each vote: Although most of the delegates will be bound by their states to vote for a certain presidential candidate on the first ballot, none of them are required to vote for any candidate for vice president.
That distinction opens up a Pandora’s Box for Republicans, as they decide how to fill out their national ticket in November. It’s possible, and even likely, that Trump will announce an agreeable, consensus pick for vice president, and in a vote for party unity, the delegates will ratify that choice…
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) April 20, 2016
In an ordinary election year, both parties would have clear leaders by now—if not presumptive nominees—and vice-presidential speculation would be ramping up, along with the private vetting of potential running mates. But on the Republican side, all three remaining contenders have turned their attention to delegate-wrangling, and there has been little talk of vice-presidential nominees. The situation is raising concerns among party insiders who fear that the eventual nominee won’t have time to properly vet their running mate—a process that has taken months in recent elections. Reince Priebus, the party chairman, has said the Republican National Committee could use its research team to help campaigns with vetting. And later this week, the Bipartisan Policy Center plans to release a set of recommendations for the vice-presidential selection process from a group of veteran political advisers who worked on the campaigns of Barack Obama, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.
“There’s a lot of homework that has to be done, and that needs to be done before the convention,” said Charlie Black, a former McCain adviser who helped with the bipartisan report. “In the old days, the potential nominees would do that homework and then they wouldn’t announce the VP until the day after the nomination ballot. So we may be in that situation again.”