Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Conditional on Other States, Colorado GOP May Move Caucuses to February 7

Ernest Luning of The Colorado Statesman is reporting that the Colorado Republican Party is entertaining the idea of moving up its presidential nominating caucuses to February 7 depending on how other states position themselves on the calendar. Said state Republican Party chair, Ryan Call:
“We’re waiting to see what Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada do,” Call said. “The law permits us to move up to the first Tuesday in February, and we might consider that if a number of other states depart and (Republican National Committee) rules permit us to do so.”
When FHQ described the Colorado legislature's successful attempts earlier this year to move the Centennial state's caucuses up two weeks to the first Tuesday in March from the third Tuesday in March, we failed to discuss the portion of the law Call mentioned. Mainly, that was a function of the fact that that particular passage in the law was not being altered in the legislation considered and ultimately passed. And Colorado, never a threat to go rogue in the past, further did not seem likely to defy national party rules by invoking that part of the law. All the while, though, the possibility was always there.

That segment was added ahead of the 2008 cycle, giving both parties in Colorado the option of moving up to what was -- in 2008 -- the earliest date the national parties were allowing non-exempt states to hold contests.

I have said many times in the past that there would not be a stampede of states to the front of the calendar, and while FHQ still maintains that that is the case now, there are a handful of caucus states that may decide to up the ante and move into February. And they may or may not be compliant with the RNC rules as a result. Much will depend on how those states decide to allocate delegates. If the precinct level is non-binding, then the contest will be compliant (see Iowa and Nevada on the GOP side in 2008). If delegates are allocated during the initial phase of the caucus/convention process (see Wyoming, 2008), those states would be in violation of the rules. In the case of the Colorado Republican Party, those delegates are left unpledged (or were in 2008).

All this means is that we are getting closer and closer to a January (if not December) start to the primary calendar.

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