Monday, February 21, 2011

2012 Presidential Primary Movement: The Week in Review (Feb. 14-20)

State legislative sessions are now to a point, where we are beginning to see a steady flow of actions to move, cancel or in some other way change the date on which presidential primaries will be held in 2012. Here's the week in review:
  • Pass it on: Virginia and Idaho moved closer to shifting the dates on which their respective presidential primaries will be held next year. In Virginia, the two bills that had already passed one chamber and had crossed over to the other for consideration both passed last week. That clears the way for Governor Bob McDonnell to sign into law the bill(s) that would move the presidential primary from the second Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March. Idaho is seeking to move in the opposite direction. The bill moving the primary (presidential and state & local primaries) up one week from the fourth Tuesday in May to the third Tuesday in May passed the Senate last week -- after having earlier passed the House -- passed the Senate and awaits Governor Butch Otter's decision on whether to sign it. Both Virginia and Idaho would become the first states to move their 2012 primaries during the 2011 state legislative session.
  • Rerouted: In Oklahoma, one of the bills proposed to shift the presidential primary in the Sooner state back to the first Tuesday in March (from the first Tuesday in February) has been removed from the Rules Committee and re-referred to the General Government Committee. Of the three bills in Oklahoma to propose this move, HB 2138 is the broadest in scope, changing not only the presidential primary date but the date for statewide and local office primaries as well (from July to June). The other House bill and Senate bill are still in their respective chamber's Rules Committees.
  • Introducing...: In Missouri, bills were introduced in both chambers by the Republican chairs of the relevant committees dealing with elections to move the Show-Me state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March -- in compliance with national party rules. In Tennessee, the Republican leadership in both legislative Houses introduced new bills that seemingly augment the original legislation to move the Volunteer state's presidential primary to March. The new versions addressed filing deadlines as well, but would have the same impact on the primary's timing as the legislation introduced earlier. In a twist, Democrats in Tennessee have come up with an alternative plan that would move the primary from February back to May to coincide with municipal elections. Though the cost savings may be tempting to the Republican majority, the state having at least a vote in who the Republican nominee will be -- or having an early enough primary date to warrant that -- likely trump that concern.
  • Can you hear me now: In Washington state, the movement to cancel the 2012 presidential primary had public hearings before committees this past week. The Washington Republican Party had come out against the Senate version of the legislation in earlier hearings, but this time, on the House side, state Democrats voiced concern based on a potential movement by the party in the direction of utilizing the primary for delegate allocation as opposed to the caucus system the party has traditionally used in the state. That said, the party did not seem to come out in opposition to the bill; it only raised the issue of using the primary.
  • As has been mentioned in this space several times, there are currently 18 states with presidential primaries scheduled for February 2012. That would put those 18 states in violation of both parties' delegate selection rules for 2012.
  • Of those 18 primary states, 15 of them (California, Connecticut, Missouri, New York, Arizona, Georgia, Delaware, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia) have convened their 2011 state legislative sessions.
  • Of those 15 states, 7 (California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia) have bills that have been introduced and are active within the state legislature to move their contests' dates back. Both California and New Jersey have bills that would eliminate an early and separate presidential primaries and position those events with the other primaries for state and local offices. That would mean June presidential primaries for both states if those bills pass and are signed into law. In the remaining states, the efforts are to simply shift the states' presidential primaries from dates in violation of the two major parties' rules to the earliest allowed date (the first Tuesday in March). There is also an active bill in Washington, DC to move the districts primary back to June.
  • For this next week the 15 early states in conflict with the national parties' rules will be the ones to watch. They will not be joined by any additional states this week or for that matter the rest of February. Alabama will be the next February primary state to convene its legislative session on March 1.
  • How would all of this look if all these bills happened to be passed and signed into law? States with active bills to move their primaries are listed twice, once where law has them currently and once in bold and italicized for where active legislation could move them.NOTE: THIS IS NOT THE CURRENT CALENDAR, ONLY WHAT IT COULD LOOK LIKE IF CURRENT LEGISLATION IS ENACTED.
Tuesday, January 31: Florida

Tuesday, February 7 (Super Tuesday): Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Utah

Saturday, February 11: Louisiana

Tuesday, February 14: Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia

Saturday, February 18: Nevada Republican caucuses

Tuesday, February 21: Hawaii Republican caucuses, Wisconsin

Tuesday, February 28: Arizona, Michigan

Tuesday, March 6: Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota caucuses, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia

Tuesday, March 13: Mississippi

Tuesday, March 20: Colorado caucuses, Illinois

Tuesday, April 3: Kansas, Maryland

Tuesday, April 24: Pennsylvania

Tuesday, May 1: Tennessee

Tuesday, May 8: Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia

Tuesday, May 15: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon

Tuesday, May 22: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky and Washington

Tuesday, June 5: California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota

Tuesday, June 12: Washington, DC

Tuesday, August 7: Kentucky

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