Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lazy and Non-binding Saturday in Arizona and New Hampshire

2012 is on the agenda at two Republican state party meetings today. Both Arizona and New Hampshire are set to elect new state party chairpersons and both state parties are acting with an eye toward 2012.

Obviously, FHQ has already spent some space in the last day or so discussing what has turned out to be a non-binding resolution by Republicans in the Grand Canyon state. The resolution would call on Republican governor, Jan Brewer, to use her proclamation power to schedule an early presidential primary for 2012. Former governor, Janet Napolitano, used the same executive power in both 2004 and 2008 to move the state's primary to the earliest date allowed by the two parties (the first Tuesday in February). But Arizona Republicans are asking a bit more of their governor this time around (assuming the resolution passes and that seems likely). If followed, Arizona's delegation to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa would be halved.

Brewer would be smart just to leave well enough alone and try to blame the state legislature for inaction. The state's presidential primary is already set -- according to state election law -- for the fourth Tuesday in February. Blame the lack of movement on a do-nothing legislature. The only question that would come out of this is whether the governor has the power to move the primary date back. The law granting the governor the power to move the primary date does not specify, though it implies, that the objective is to move the primary to an earlier and more advantageous date rather than a later and compliant date.

The only thing that will come out of today's vote in Phoenix is that there is some desire among Arizona Republicans to have a meaningful primary election regardless of RNC rules.

New Hampshire:
In the Granite state today, the state Republican Party is meeting in Derry to select a new chairperson, but is also holding a straw poll of the approximately 500 state party members in attendance. FHQ quipped the other day that this wasn't going to tell us much because it won't come close to approximating what will happen in the actual primary; one that is open to independents who obviously won't be at the Republican meeting today.

But here's the thing: It isn't an altogether meaningless exercise. First of all, that battle for Republican chair is one that pits an establishment candidate, Juliana Bergeron, against a Tea Party-backed choice, Jack Kimball. Who comes out on top there speaks to the direction of the state party. Secondly, with polls of the state consistently showing Mitt Romney as the leading choice among primary voters in the nation's first primary state, the odds-setting concerns how well the former Massachusetts governor will do in the straw poll.

Those two things don't necessarily jibe all that well. Romney is not a favorite of the Tea Party (and vice versa), and if they flex their muscle in the vote for New Hampshire state party chair, that doesn't necessarily bode well for his chances of a strong showing in the straw poll. Let's state that a bit differently. If Kimball wins the chair race, Romney is very likely to come in under the level of support he has had in polls of the state in the straw poll.

That's what should be looked at coming out of today anyway.

...with a mind toward the fact that independents aren't participating and will be in next year's primary.

Are you following FHQ on Twitter and/or Facebook? Click on the links to join in.


Anonymous said...

You're right that it says little about how the actual primary open to Indies will play out. Even so, if it shows the Tea Party to be stronger/savvier in NH than expected, Romney will probably feel some pressure to tack Right to avoid the risk of a campaign-rocking disappointing result in NH. My sense is he's aware he has little room to flip because of his reputation and so is focusing his rightward tack on things like blasting the Obama tax cut compromise (though a closer look shows this is a bit of a flip itself).

New Hampshire is a tough nut to crack. Buchanan won there before McCain did twice.

It'll also be interesting on another level if Romney underperforms today: seeing who the biggest beneficiary is. With Romney not cozying up to the Tea Party, it's almost opens a sub-primary to see who is their candidate. We still don't know if Palin will run and if she does, if she'll overcome skepticism.

Josh Putnam said...

Romney may or may not have to tack right. I think he is waiting to see how the relationship between the president and the Republican-controlled House plays out before fully committing to a message for the rest of the year. If the advantage goes to the Republican House, then he may be forced to move to the right. If, however, Obama emerges with the upper hand, Romney has to hope that Republican primary voters become a bit more pragmatic about their November chances when choosing a nominee. We'll see.

Oh yeah. New Hampshire is tough. Independents will play a large role with the GOP being the only primary game in town next year.