That’s the trouble with being a caucus-convention-primary state. There are so few around that it is hard to know how best to “operate” within it, and it is quite obvious that Minnesota Republicans do not. How else to explain this intense concern over pledges or promises by candidates to “abide by the endorsement”? Think about it. If the pledge is mandatory, you have just closed the endorsement process, while the primary is OPEN. If the pledge is voluntary, most candidates will not sign on until they are reasonably certain of the outcome of the Convention, which usually happens during, or just before, convention. And any candidate who believes he/she is still the best choice (often the reality) will STILL go to the primary.
Either way, the GOP organization is trying to force the candidates to value (and seek) endorsement, when all that is accomplished is to DE-value it, with some of the best candidates skipping endorsement entirely. The way to make the endorsement have value, so that candidates WANT it, is to make it a valuable part of a winning strategy. If the endorsement carried with it a huge outpouring of volunteer hours, financing, enthusiasm and communication opportunities, candidates would be far more likely to compete for the chance to be endorsed rather than bypassing it. Right now, though, after granting a 60% endorsement, the remaining 40% of delegates usually say, essentially, “He’s not my guy, so I’m done,” while the other 60% say, essentially, “Well, I did my job as delegate and got him the endorsement, so I’m done.” This means the endorsement has almost no real value.
Here’s the reality: Even if the delegates managed to endorse unanimously, there is still one more thing required of them, to guarantee victory in November. Each and every one of them must then go out and somehow convince ONE THOUSAND more voters that this candidate is their best choice. No candidate pledge can ever make that happen, and it would be unnecessary if the delegates brought that value to the endorsement.