Friday, September 30, 2011

UPDATE: Final Presidential Primary Calendar Will Not Be Set Until After October 22 ...or maybe earlier

UPDATE: Politico's Reid Epstein is reporting this evening that the Nevada GOP is holding an emergency Executive Committee meeting tonight. That obviously changes the outlook of the calendar. Also, it looks like states/state parties are heeding the October 1 deadline, penalty-less though it may be.

Veteran Nevada political reporter, Jon Ralston, tweeted earlier that the Nevada Republican Party was considering a first week in February caucus. That would keep the party's contest compliant -- in February for an exempt state -- and not cost the Nevada GOP half of their 28 delegates. He also just now tweeted that the meeting tonight was not decisive and that the Executive Committee will meet again on deadline day tomorrow.

Here is more from Laura Myers at the Las Vegas Review Journal:
[Nevada GOP chair Amy] Tarkanian said she didn't know what date Nevada might choose, but she wanted to ensure the state holds its caucuses ahead of most states so the date could shift toward Feb. 1.
And on Nevada Democrats:  

The Nevada Democratic Party criticized Florida for disrupting plans by the two main political parties to establish a presidential nominating season designed to make more states count.
"Florida's announcement today risks the integrity and intent of the presidential nominating calendar and is a blatant violation of the rules agreed upon by the national committees of both parties," Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange said Friday in a statement.
Lange also said Nevada Democrats might move up the date of their presidential caucuses to sometime in January in reaction to Florida moving its primary to Jan. 31.

Original Post:

Nevada is the new Florida.

Now that Florida is officially on the 2012 presidential primary calendar, all that is left to figure out at the front is where the earliest four exempt states will position their primaries and caucuses. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina now have 30 days in which to fit four nominating contests. As we mentioned earlier today -- post-Florida -- South Carolina is fairly easy to place. The latest possible date South Carolina could and likely will fall on is Saturday, January 28.

But when it comes to the next two pieces in the puzzle -- Nevada and New Hampshire -- have a conflict and it won't/can't be dealt with until October 22 at the earliest. Again, the Nevada Republican Party over the summer changed the rules surrounding the party's precinct caucuses, coupling the scheduling of Silver state Republicans' contest with the scheduling of the New Hampshire primary. The rule calls for the Nevada caucuses to fall on the Saturday following the New Hampshire primary. That creates a conflict with the Granite state. New Hampshire law requires that the primary there be scheduled for a date that is seven days prior to any similar contest.

Something has to give and as I suggested earlier, that give is likely going to come from Nevada's end. New Hampshire would have to change its law or settle for a non-Tuesday election date. Neither of those are likely to happen and Bill Gardner is willing to threaten to take Nevada and Iowa into 2011 as leverage to gain more than four days separation from Nevada. Plus, it is just easier for a party to change a rule than it is for a state legislature/government to change an election law -- especially when it is out of session.

That brings us back to October 22. That is the date on which the Nevada Republican Party Executive Committee meeting will occur according to Karoun Demirjian at the Las Vegas Sun. South Carolina may or may not weigh in before then -- sooner probably rather than later -- but Nevada will not be able to address the conflict with New Hampshire until late October. That, in turn, will impact when New Hampshire and then Iowa will set their dates.

And by that point we will be two months out from the likely start of the primary season.

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