Tuesday, April 28, 2015

South Carolina Republicans Eyeing February 20 Presidential Primary Date

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore has said the party is likely to hold its 2016 presidential primary on February 20 according to Andrew Shain at The State. Moore went on to provide a tentative timeline for the carve-out states in the Republican presidential nomination process:
Feb. 1: Iowa 
Feb. 9: New Hampshire 
Feb. 20: South Carolina 
Feb. 23: Nevada 
March 1: Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee
The DNC rules call for more specific dates for the first four states, and while the Republican National Committee rules provide no guidance on that question other than the fact that the carve-out states can hold their primaries and caucuses as early as a month before the next earliest contest, there has been some behind the scenes calendar coordination between the RNC and the Republican state parties in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article19816635.html#storylink=cpy
Documents circulated among Nevada Republican Party State Central Committee members prior to their spring meeting this past March included a summary of the work the leadership was and had been doing to prepare for votes on the particulars of the party's 2016 delegate selection process.1 That summary revealed a similar timeline (see page 6):
Determined to avoid a repeat of 2012, the RNC decided to set a firm schedule early for 2016, and at the end of last summer, the Chairman of the RNC Rules Committee, Bruce Ash from Arizona, reached out to the early states thru [sic] a series of conference calls where the early dates were determined. The goal was to fit all four states within the month of February, with enough time in between each contest to allow the candidates to travel from state to state and campaign.

By tradition, Iowa holds the first caucus in the nation, and New Hampshire holds the first primary. Iowa selected a caucus date of February 2nd for Republicans (Feb 1st for Democrats) and New Hampshire selected February 9th for their primary. South Carolina preferred February 20th for their primary, and Nevada picked the 23rd . Saturday the 27th was not good for anybody because eight states, including Texas and Virginia, planned to hold their contests on “Super Tuesday”, March 1, and nobody wanted to be within four days of eight competing primary elections. Alternative dates available to Nevada were Saturday the 13th or Tuesday the 16th . These days fall on or immediately after the long President’s Day weekend, which also includes Valentine’s Day, so it was felt that turnout could be depressed if we used those dates. When all factors are taken into account, the 23rd made the most sense in terms of getting candidates to Nevada, being able to host events and get them in front of voters.
The only difference between the two is that the earlier Nevada-based timeline had Iowa Republicans holding caucuses just a week before the New Hampshire primary and on a date a day after the Iowa Democratic caucuses. The parties in Iowa tend to conduct their caucuses on the same date, but are not bound to by state law or party bylaw.

This alignment between those two timelines is evidence that the RNC has worked to tamp down on the calendar chaos from 2011. Additionally, the fact that SCGOP Chair Moore revealed that the party's primary "schedule will be formalized in about two weeks" and that he placed North Carolina on March 1 seems to suggest that South Carolina Republicans do not perceive a real threat from its neighbor to the north. In fact, given that South Carolina Democrats are settling in on a February 27 primary, the current North Carolina law -- which does not account for Democratic and Republican primaries in South Carolina on different days -- may turn out to be compliant with the national party rules (a possibility FHQ raised here).

At least one of the bills in the Nevada legislature -- SB 421 -- now calls for the proposed presidential primary in the Silver state to be on the last Tuesday in February. That matches the February 23 date in both timelines.

Overall, the coordinated timeline points toward the potential Colorado and New York problems on February 2 being non-issues or that their movement into compliance is likely in the eyes of the RNC and Republicans in the carve-out states. The gears are already moving in that direction in Colorado.

The proposed Democratic schedule in February looks like this:
Feb. 1: Iowa 
Feb. 9: New Hampshire 
Feb. 20: Nevada 
Feb. 27: South Carolina
That would have the Nevada Democratic caucuses and the South Carolina Republican primary overlapping on February 20.

1 The Nevada Republican Party was preparing to vote on the mode of delegate selection (primary or caucuses) and on the binding rules that would govern the delegate allocation process in 2016.

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