Monday, December 8, 2008

Maryland GOP to Jump Iowa/New Hampshire in 2012?

Let me save the Maryland Republican Party's newly minted pre-primary caucus study committee the trouble: save your money and lobby the state legislature to move the Old Line state's 2012 primary to an earlier date. Well, I suppose the party realizes it will be futile to attempt to sway a Democratic-controlled legislature to move the state's primary to help nominate a Republican that might do well in Maryland in November 2012.

[Wait! What are you talking about?]

As PolitickerMD reported this afternoon, the Republican Party in Maryland has formed a study committee to look into the wisdom in establishing a pre-primary caucus in the state for 2012. The plan would align the state with the system in Washington more so than the one in, say, Iowa. In other words, the Maryland Republicans are trying to circumvent the system on this one to some extent by holding more than just a beauty contest straw poll as Iowa does in the August before an election year. Their potential plan would establish a delegate-binding caucus that would be held prior to Iowa and New Hampshire. This is similar to what happened in Washington state this past cycle.

The Evergreen state's primary was held on February 19 and allocated just under half of the Republican Party delegates from the state. The caucus portion was held ten days prior -- just after Super Tuesday and well after Iowa and New Hampshire -- allocating a little more than half the state's GOP delegates.

Maryland Republicans are going a step beyond that though; splitting their delegate selection contest in two and pushing one portion of it forward far enough to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status among the states.

Now, this is certainly a new twist, but I suspect that this will be greeted by the national party in much the same way that Wyoming's move did prior to the 2008 cycle. [What you don't remember Wyoming Republicans moving the first step of their caucus to January 5. And mind you this was before Iowa and New Hampshire settled in on January 3 and 5 as the dates for their respective caucus and primary.] Wyoming opted to, unlike Iowa, make the first step in its caucus delegate-binding. [Iowa doesn't officially allocate any delegates until the state convention toward the end of the nomination process.] That translated into the Equality state, like all the other states that violated the NRC's delegate selection rules by holding delegate-binding contests prior to February 5 -- a list that included Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire -- losing half its delegates to the convention. I suspect that any move similar to the one being discussed in Maryland would meet the same fate in 2012.

...unless the commission the NRC formed at their convention to deal with these frontloading issues comes up with anything fruitful to reform the nomination system first. There's a long way to go until 2012, but my money is on a system similar to what we witnessed in 2008 coming back and Maryland getting burned and not having much of an effect. It won't be Wyoming-ignored, but the Old Line state Republicans won't get the desired effect. Iowa and New Hampshire won't let them.

Maryland now joins Florida and Louisiana as the first potential rogue states of 2012. I'll have more on that shortly, though. It's too bad Kansas couldn't join the fun.

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