Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Arizona Presidential Primary Situation (8/31/11)

On a morning where we sit on the cusp of the beginning of September -- a month that will likely be very busy in terms of finalizing the 2012 presidential primary calendar -- FHQ wanted to follow up both on yesterday's Arizona post and a couple of tweets I sent out late last night. The tweets were in response to an ABC News item by Amy Bingham that largely gets the situation right.1 Ms. Bingham picks up on the contours of the situation in Arizona: highlighting the fact that January 31 may not be the only option Governor Brewer is considering as a landing place for the Grand Canyon state's 2012 presidential primary.

What is misleading about the article to some extent -- it is more about the headline -- is that is mischaracterizes the situation surrounding the decision-making calculus in Arizona right now. FHQ doesn't shy away from arguments of semantics and that's really what this is. That said, it is important frame this story in the proper context. Governor Brewer may in fact opt to schedule the presidential primary in Arizona for some time between January 31 and February 28, but I don't think the possibility of her opting for something later than January 31 should be described as "backing down".

That implies that the governor is reconsidering because of some outside stimulus. The clearest implication is that she is "backing down" based on the delegate selection rules -- or more to the point the penalties -- the RNC has put together for the 2012 cycle. Granted, the ABC News piece only puts out there the idea that Brewer is wavering without answering the question of why.
  • It could be the rules, though time and again, Brewer and her spokesperson have repeated the "we don't care about the delegate penalties" refrain.
  • It could be negotiations with the RNC over how to resolve the issue have brought the governor to the conclusion that there is a compromise position. Again, FHQ doubts this based on the fact that Arizona loses leverage with the party -- in terms of potentially reducing the delegate penalty -- the more she keeps the RNC and everyone else in the dark on the decision-making process.
  • It could also be that the governor, independent of pressure from anyone outside of Arizona, has come to the conclusion that she can maximize the attention -- from the candidates and the media -- to the Arizona primary just as well on, say, February 14, as she can on January 31. Again, consistent with the negotiations language, one leads with an outlandish offer only to "bargain" one's way to a perceived less threatening, yet ideal position.
FHQ, without getting too Safire-esque, is not of the opinion that Brewer or anyone is backing down to anyone or anything. Our response: Backing down from/to what? There is no clear indication as to what that answer may be. All we know is that Brewer's spokesperson broke from a very consistent "she's leaning toward January 31" message and has allowed for the possibility that other options are on the table.

...and they are most likely on the table because Brewer can get Arizona what she and other Arizona Republicans think the state deserves in all of this: a greater portion of the attention pie. Regardless, what I have heard through the grapevine is that Brewer will, regardless of the ultimate date, make a decision this week.

1 Of course, that may be because someone at ABC News was hanging around FHQ yesterday prior to posting a story that echoes to a great degree the points made in this space yesterday. At least now I know that the Disney IP address out of New York is associated with ABC News.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the RNC could whittle Arizona's delegates to almost nothing. That would leave them with no influence in terms of who the nominee is.

If Arizona moved to jan 31, Florida could move to Jan 24. I could see a scenario where Iowa is forced into Dec 2011. Either New Year's Eve or Christmas Eve. That would be a huge embarrassment for the RNC.

I could also see this as a attempt to de-escalate the situation. If they move into Feb, they may figure that the RNC may not be as unhappy about it as they would about a move to January.