Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Death of the Idaho Republican Presidential Caucuses has been Greatly Exaggerated

****Note (1/7/14): This post is a correction to an item that ran in this space starting on Sunday, January 5. The original text is appended at the conclusion of the following correction.

The line apparently works for more than just Mark Twain. The Idaho Republican presidential caucuses are very much alive and well.

…contrary to a report from the Idaho State Journal that was published over the weekend and that FHQ picked up on and analyzed.

FHQ received a comment and follow up email in response to our post from Ronald Nate, the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party Rules Committee that devised the caucus/convention system in the lead up to the 2012 cycle. Here is what happened in the Gem state this weekend.

1. There was a meeting of the Idaho Republican Party State Central Committee (SCC).
2. There were a couple of proposals brought up to end the practice of presidential caucuses (one each in the Rules Committee and the Resolutions Committee).
3. Both proposals failed.
4. However, a motion was filed in before the SCC to approve the (failed Resolutions Committee) measure. [Any item brought before the Resolutions Committee that receives the support of at least one-third of the committee can be brought up before the the SCC. The Resolutions Committee vote was 6-8. More than one-third of the 14 member committee was in support. That triggered the motion before the SCC.]

This is where the confusion came in.

Voting for the motion (yes) for the SCC to consider the resolution was something that proponents of killing the caucuses would have been in favor of. In other words, those against the caucuses would have voted yes. Those who were against the motion, then, were members who favored retaining the caucuses as the means of allocating delegates to the national convention. They were no votes, but caucuses supporters.

The no votes were 90 and the yes votes were 64. The motion for the SCC to take up the non-binding resolution to consider ending the caucuses failed.

Yet, that "No" win was interpreted by at least one member -- Dan Cravens, the Bingham County Republican Party chair  and source of the original Idaho State Journal story -- as one that ended the caucuses; that a no vote meant no more caucuses.

In the end, the confusion was a function of getting lost in parliamentary procedure.

For more, please see the story the Idaho State Journal ran in response to their earlier story.

I would also like to add a note of apology to FHQ's readers. I go to great lengths to catalog and thoroughly analyze everything that happens with the primary calendar and the events that ultimately fill it. But sometimes the content here is only as good as the source stories I come across (and their stories only as good as their sources). Still, I played a part in spreading what proved to be less-than-accurate information, and for that I am sorry. 


Original Post:

Idaho GOP Halts Presidential Caucuses

…for now.

From the Idaho State Journal:
The presidential caucus system established by the Idaho Republican Party in 2012 to give the state more say in the selection of a presidential candidate was killed by the Republican State Central Committee in Boise on Saturday.  
The GOP Central Committee is comprised of county leadership, including chairmen and women from each county. Dan Cravens, the Bingham County Republican Party chairman, said the majority of opposition came from North Idaho while leadership in Southeast Idaho voted to retain the caucus system.  
“It was a close vote within 20 votes,” Cravens said. “I was disappointed.”
A couple of things here:
1) There was no consensus on this decision within the State Central Committee. The vote was close, and the issue may not be dead. Interestingly, the southeastern area of the state -- the part of the state that backed Romney in the 2012 caucuses -- was in support of maintaining the caucuses. The northern portion of the state, where Paul and Santorum saw the most support in 2012, was in opposition.

2) Idaho Republicans are now without a specific means of allocating delegates in 2016. The presumption -- the intent -- is that Republicans in the Gem state will simply revert to their later primary election. That may be the eventual course of action, but as a part of the transition to caucuses in 2012, the Idaho state legislature permanently removed the presidential primary line from the May primary ballot. Of course, this is a relatively minor issue assuming there are no future State Central Committee votes on the issue (and that enough votes crossover in support of the caucuses). FHQ does not expect that the IDGOP will take this issue up again in 2014. It may, but that will most likely occur in 2015 when the bulk of these calendar-related issues are handled.

For the time being, though, Idaho Republicans are without a mechanism for allocating (presidential) delegates to the national convention.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.


Unknown said...

This story is untrue. The Idaho Republican Party did NOT eliminate the caucus. In fact, the party voted overwhelmingly to preserve its caucus.

Signed, Ron Nate, Idaho GOP Rules Committee chair, and Chair of the 2012 Idaho Republican Caucus Committee.

Josh Putnam said...

Thanks for the heads up, Ron. The fact that the Idaho State Journal has completely removed its story seems to verify this.

Please email me (at any additional details about the meeting and the vote you described and I'll be glad to put a correction up.