After a spate of high-profile defections this election year, the Republican National Committee is looking to crack down on GOP party-switchers.
During their summer meeting Friday in Kansas City, RNC members unanimously voted to adopt a change to party rules, requiring GOP candidates to pledge not to oppose the party's ultimate nominee in the race. That includes a promise not to mount a challenge as a member of another political party or to endorse someone else other than the GOP nominee in the race.
If a candidate didn't sign the pledge, the RNC would withhold party money and resources from his or her campaign. Meanwhile, candidates who broke the pledge would be forced to pay back any RNC money they received, as well as any contributions from Republican donors who asked for a refund.
First reported by the Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman, the rule isn't to go into effect until it is finalized at the party's 2012 convention.
The agreement is in direct response to candidates like Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Last year, Specter switched parties to run as a Democrat amid signs he would lose his GOP Senate primary to former Rep. Pat Toomey. (Specter ultimately lost the Democratic primary to Joe Sestak.) Crist, meanwhile, quit the GOP to run as independent in Florida's Senate race against Republican rival Marco Rubio.
Both Specter and Crist pointedly refused to return contributions from GOP donors after making the switch.