Tuesday, September 22, 2015

March 5 Caucuses Are a Go for Maine Republicans in 2016

At a Saturday, September 19 meeting, the Maine Republican Party State Central Committee voted on the rules that will govern the party's delegate selection process in 2016.1

Chief among the rules adopted was the decision to consolidate local caucus meetings on one day: Saturday, March 5. Not only is that a later date than the caucuses were held four years ago, but rather than having a series of caucus meetings that stretched across the month of February, Maine Republicans will conduct all of their local caucuses on one day in 2016. The staggered pacing in 2012 led to an initial round of irregularities that fueled tensions later in the Maine Republican delegate selection process. The uniform caucus date -- one day before Maine Democrats caucus -- will at least partially solve those issues in 2016.

That, however, was not the only rules change (relative to the 2012 cycle) that came out of the State Central Committee meeting. Since the Republican National Committee tweaked its national delegate selection rules to require the binding of delegates based on the results of primaries and caucuses, the Maine Republican Party no longer has luxury of holding non-binding caucuses as it did in 2012. That was at least part of the impetus behind the move to the consolidated precinct caucus date for 2016: It is easier to count votes and thus bind delegates if that initial round of voting takes place on one day.

As the caucuses will be within the proportionality window on March 5, Maine Republicans were forced to put some form of proportional plan in place. And from the look of it, the party has opted to take the simplest path to proportionality. Rather than attempt to split the allocation across the congressional districts, MEGOP has chosen to bind delegates to candidates in rough proportion to their statewide support in the caucuses on March 5. It is not clear that there is a minimum threshold in place to limit the candidates eligible for delegates to just those above the threshold (up to 20% according to RNC rules). However, there is a maximum threshold that makes the caucuses conditionally winner-take-all. Should a candidate receive a majority of the vote statewide in the March 5 caucuses, that candidate will win all of Maine's delegates.

The full details of the plan will be released later as the caucuses approach, but the big take away for now is that Maine Republicans are off the "no date" board. The party will conduct March 5 caucuses.

1 See the full press release from the Republican Party of Maine here:
AUGUSTA – The Maine Republican Party is pleased to announce that it has approved changes to how Republican voters in Maine will nominate the next President of the United States.  
Designed to give Maine Republicans a stronger voice in the Presidential race, and increase participation in the political process, the Maine GOP will conduct a one-day Presidential Nominating Caucus at sites around the state on Saturday, March 5, 2016. Maine’s caucuses will be create, essentially, a ‘Super Saturday’ just ahead of what are known as ‘Super Tuesday’ contests across the nation.
“Maine Republicans deserve to have a strong voice in nominating our next President, and this plan does just that,” said Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett. “Between now and March 5, 2016, our team will work tirelessly to ensure every Republican who wants to be involved in the political process will know how, and we look forward to working with everyone on March 5, to tell the nation how Maine Republicans feel about the Presidential candidates.”  
The caucuses will be held at sites across the state, and voting will be conducted via paper ballots during the caucus. Any registered Republican voter will be provided a ballot, and candidates will be allowed to attend or send surrogates to speak to caucus voters before ballots are cast.  
Republicans formally nominate a Presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention, which will be held this year in Cleveland, Ohio, by sending delegates from each state to vote at the national convention. In the past, Maine has selected Republican delegates at the Maine State Convention. The 2016 caucus changes mean that the votes of all Republicans who attend a caucus, not just those who attend the state convention, will directly choose Maine’s delegates.  
Statewide caucus results will determine the number of delegates each candidate receives to the national convention, and will be allocated to candidates in proportion to the percent of the vote they receive. If any one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, they will win all of Maine’s delegates.  
Maine GOP National Committeeman Alex Willette, who co-chaired the Maine GOP Presidential Nominating Committee, said, “After several public hearings and considering feedback from a great many Republicans across Maine, we feel this is the best decision for Maine. I’m proud of the work we did, and I am excited to see Maine Republicans have a strong voice in the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination.” 
Additional details on caucus times, locations, rules and media availability will be provided by the Maine GOP at the party’s website, MaineGOP.com between now and caucus day.

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: