Friday, March 31, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Donald Trump has been indicted

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

There may be a bit of a slow-speed white Bronco chase feel to all the coverage, but it cannot go without mention that former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury. Still, FHQ would like to take an opportunity to echo something that the Cook Political Report's Amy Walter said in reaction to the news:
We do not know. That will not mean that folks will not rush to fill the void and speculate. They will. But we should all be mindful of the unprecedented nature of all of this. Presidents who lose reelection have not tended to try for a third time in the modern era. Trump is. Former presidents do not often get indicted. Trump is the first. We are all testing this hypothesis as this thing develops. Folks on both sides of the aisle are reacting in what can be called expected ways. That helps to advance this some. What elites say in response to this event matters. Those are signals to rank and file partisans that may impact public opinion on the matter down the line. But this has also moved from hypothetical to real. Survey respondents will now be asked to react to a real indictment and not a hypothetical one. That may influence the sort of read we may get from those polls when they inevitably make it into the political bloodstream in the coming days.

But what we know now is that Trump is signaling that he is going to keep on keepin' on with respect to 2024, and Republicans for the most part are rallying behind him. 

There are a lot of elected Republicans in the state of Texas. That is a lot of potential endorsements to go around in the 2024 Republican invisible primary. Trump has gotten the jump on the rest of the field in the Lone Star state in the endorsement primary. It is not a 2019 head start, but it ain't 2015 either. That is yet another datapoint in the Trump 2023 is ahead of Trump 2015 but behind Trump 2019 story. All of those markers are going to end up somewhere between one of the two -- 2015 or 2019 -- poles, but where they all land matters. The closer Trump is to his 2019 version, the better the former president's odds of ultimately claiming the 2024 Republican presidential nomination will be.

New Hampshire is back in the news. Remember New Hampshire? That first-in-the-nation presidential primary state? Well, the General Court in the Granite state considered a couple of measures on Thursday. FHQ has discussed both earlier this year. A constitutional amendment to further cement New Hampshire's position on the presidential primary calendar and a bill to force the national parties to seat delegates chosen as a reflection of that primary. Both passed the state Senate on Thursday, March 30, the former with bipartisan support and the latter on a party-line vote with Republicans for and Democrats against. 

And that all makes sense. New Hampshire Democrats are willing to signal their support for the the state's continued first-in-the-nation status in the proposed amendment. That is just good politics at home and that has much has been true since December when the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee initially adopted President Biden's proposed early calendar rules. But they were less willing to go along with a bill that would dig their hole deeper with the Democratic National Committee. New Hampshire may be able to outlast the national parties on calendar positioning, but it is another matter altogether to dictate to a party how to allocate, much less seat, delegates to their national convention. That is something that is unlikely to hold up in the courts. That is a party decision and the national convention is the ultimate decision maker in the process. matter what any state law says. 

A tip of the cap to Dante Scala for the heads up on this one.

On a personal note, FHQ Plus, FHQ's subscription service, launched today. Subscribe and come check it out! [See below]

On this date... 1984, the Kentucky Democratic caucuses were held. 1992, Jerry Brown won the Vermont caucuses. 2012, President Barack Obama won the Arizona caucuses.

Introducing FHQ Plus

Last week marked the 16th anniversary of FHQ's initial post. It was modest by 2007 standards. Many things around here are. But it was the first step in the development of a site that has become a resource, a companion guide to presidential elections generally, but nominations and nominations rules in particular. As I have noted on similar occasions in the past, it all started as little more than an effort to gather and share anecdotal evidence of presidential primary movement for the 2008 cycle for dissertation research and transformed over time into a field guide of sorts. The mission became an effort to catalog and contextualize not only primary calendar changes within and in between cycles, but nominations rules changes as well, and to package all of that insanely complex maneuvering into something more easily digestible for everyone. 

Look, it is a niche. I know that. I have known that. This stuff can read like stereo instructions sometimes. And I have seen folks' eyes glaze over when I launch into it. Nevertheless, 16 years in, I have learned 1) that there is value out there in this resource and 2) that there is a cyclical nature to all of it. That glaze over the eyes gets a little thinner with regularity: every four years as the presidential nomination races heat up, this information -- the primary calendar, the rules, the impact each (and the changes to each) will have within states and collectively to the process on a national scale --  becomes more important. Well, it is always important, in truth. But it begins to rise in relative importance every cycle once the midterms pass. Traffic jumps a little and then a lot. Email requests increase a little and then a lot. Or in the case of the 2024 cycle, they jump a lot if the Democratic Party waits until after the midterms to fundamentally reshape its primary calendar. 

But that is the way it goes, or perhaps, the way it has gone. I work hard to create for and maintain this resource. It has been extremely important to me to freely share it all so that the information could get out there. So that it could benefit those who are looking to be better informed about the ins and outs of the presidential nomination process. As a political scientist, I continue to wear that teaching hat, and I continue to place a great deal of value on the notion that knowledge is power in the hands of citizens in a democracy. And that mean citizens of all stripes from those in campaigns, parties and media to those in the academy and everyone else just trying to make some sense of the complex systems that determine who the standard bearers for the major parties will be in presidential elections. 

FHQ remains committed to that value.

But the model will change for the first time after 16 years. FHQ -- -- is not going anywhere. But today I am excited to launch FHQ Plus, a paid subscription arm of FHQ built on the Substack platform. If you have been a regular reader of or have casually happened upon FHQ over the years, then the concept will be similar at FHQ Plus. Those discussions of primary movement and delegate selection rules changes will be there. In-depth analyses and other musings to further contextualize those changes will be there. Reactions to news and other events that require more space than social media will allow will be there too. And so will some other enhancements that are made available on Substack. Twitter is not going anywhere, but there is obviously some uncertainty with how the platform is going to function in the future. The Substack chat function allows for some interesting connectivity among subscribers to FHQ Plus that may nurture important conversations. [And I'll be real, bots spamming the comments section on Blogger forced me to switch to moderating that; something to which I never took. I just did not have the bandwidth to deal with it.] And there are podcast possibilities as well. 

And no, that does not completely gut the original FHQ. Our flagship property, the presidential primary calendar will stay in place. Increasingly, links from the calendar will lead to FHQ Plus, but the base calendar will remain available to everyone. That same basic structure will hold for base delegate allocation rules pages when those are posted in the future. And I brought Invisible Primary: Visible back at the beginning of the month with this move in mind. It will continue to post every weekday in the mid-morning on FHQ and continue to deliver insights too big for social media and too small for a stand-alone post. And the vast majority of the FHQ archive will remain right where it is, available for everyone. Additionally, there are tentative plans to cross-post one item from FHQ Plus every week (probably on Saturdays) and a dedicated "column" (probably on Sundays).

Everything else moving forward will be published on FHQ Plus. I have wrestled with a pay model for a while now. Keen observers may recall that for a period during latter half of 2022 there were ads in various places around FHQ. Ultimately, I did not like the way that cluttered up the site. There was and is already a lot of material to take in at FHQ and ads only served as a distraction from that. A subscription model circumvents that distraction. 

The monthly subscription rate to FHQ Plus is initially set at five dollars ($5) or for the year, $30. In both cases, that is the lowest level allowed through Substack.

This is another aspect of this with which I wrestled. Five dollars will price some folks out. I get that. Others may feel like five dollars undervalues the FHQ experience. Folks who fall into that latter category -- those who place a higher value on FHQ Plus and its mission -- are free, welcome really, to give at a value that they feel is appropriate. Think of it as akin to how Radiohead distributed In Rainbows. It was a pay-what-you-want model with a nominal service charge -- what was it, 10¢? -- to use a debit or credit card and get the digital file for the album. FHQ Plus is the same. If you want, you can pay what you want under the Plus Founder (Suggested) option, where you can input a yearly price your choosing about $30. But the baseline charge will be five dollars a month or $30 a year. 

In the end, this is not Netflix. It is not Spotify. It is not whatever fill-in-the-blank other service you subscribe to. But FHQ Plus does fill a void, and in my estimation, an important one that arises for a lengthy period every four years. It is a niche service, and I am asking folks to chip a bit to help FHQ continue in its larger mission to fill that void.

Most importantly and in closing, I want to do something that I try to do every year when the anniversary of FHQ's launch rolls around, and still never really feels like enough. I want to say a very sincere thank you to everyone. Thank you to everyone for reading, whether from near the beginning or not until only recently. Thank you for the interactions and the comments here or on social media. They often led to posts or made existing ones better. Thank you to the long line of folks over the years -- you know who you are -- who have advocated for FHQ, who have promoted the site or its affiliated social media channels, and who have reached out privately to offer words of praise or a simple thank you. Those efforts, no matter the size, have meant the world to me. And I greatly appreciate them all. 

Thank you and welcome to FHQ Plus.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Lessons Learned in 2016 and the 2024 Republican Nomination

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

Tom Lobianco at Yahoo News had a piece up earlier this week that connected the dots on some of the recent hiring activity at Never Back Down, the super PAC aligned with the nascent Ron DeSantis bid for the Republican nomination. And as FHQ had pointed out a day earlier in Invisible Primary: Visible, many of the signals in those hires pointed toward past associations with, if not the 2016 Cruz campaign, then the Texas senator himself outside of that context. 

Now, Lobianco noted that the new assemblage of past Cruz-aligned staff would draw on their experiences in 2016 and apply that and lessons learned to the 2024 effort to take down Trump. And that elicited a series of quips that FHQ had seen made across social media in the context of the recent super PAC hiring spree. Basically, losers from 2016 are lining up a similar bid to lose to Trump again. And there is some truth to that. If a similar crew is mounting another similar campaign attempting to better build a similar coalition, then have any lessons really been learned? 

And while there may even be some truth to that notion, it is also, perhaps, a bit unfair. Former Cruz-aligned operatives like Jeff Roe or David Polyansky might well argue that they have (or will have) adapted to Trump for 2024, that neither the nascent campaign nor the potential coalition sought are completely similar to the conditions faced by the 2016 effort led by Ted Cruz. 

Yes, but here is the thing: Trump and his team are not the same either. Many things about Trump 2024 are similar to Trump 2016. The former president retains his uncanny ability to command attention, for example. And that similarity (and its importance) cannot be understated. But there are differences for Trump, for better and worse. Team Trump has also learned lessons from the 2016 experience. The reelection campaign in 2020, in fact, test drove rules changes (mainly on the state level that are still subject to change for 2024) that could very benefit the former president again as he seeks the 2024 nomination. That is something of a departure from the 2016 experience when novice candidate Trump was out-hustled on the rules in a number of states by some members of the very team now gathered behind DeSantis. But the issues involved in 2024 may cut the broader Republican primary electorate in new ways in this cycle than it did in 2015-16 as well. Trump's insistence on continually dipping into the well of grievance with respect to the 2020 election does not necessarily play well with everyone. It may with his core supporters. But it may not to the same degree with others who prioritize other issues in the current context. 

Look, while winning and losing in 2016 may tell us something about this Republican nomination race in 2023-24, it is obviously just one piece in a developing puzzle. The invisible primary marches on with evolving factors to keep an eye on.

John Harris makes the case for a Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) run for 2024. And it was perfectly timed for a perceived low point for DeSantis relative to Trump (and not necessarily the rest of the field). This is another staple in the rise and fall horserace coverage of presidential nominations: the profile of a potential white knight candidate. The 2012 Republican invisible primary saw a lot of this. There was a well-positioned frontrunner who had support from some factions of the party, but for whom there was also uncertainty about whether he could carry a run over the finish line to the nomination. That frontrunner saw a number of atypical challengers rise and fall around him as 2011 wore on. And there were traditionally qualified candidates who were mentioned in the same way then as Youngkin is now by Harris. Rick Perry was a savior candidate until he was not. Jeb Bush was mentioned a lot late in 2011, but nothing ever came of it. And it persisted into 2012 as well. There is still time for Youngkin to make the plunge, but there really is no substitute for slowly and methodically building up for what is a mammoth and lengthy undertaking. And there are signs that Youngkin is doing some of the things that prospective presidential candidates do, but also some signs that he is not totally sold on the idea of a run

Begun the ad wars have. Vivek Ramaswamy is up on Boston area TV -- that includes New Hampshire! -- with an initial ad buy. Ramaswamy does not have the name recognition that others have and is attempting to change that in the Granite state. New Hampshire may not (technically) be first in the Democratic presidential nomination process in 2024, but Republican candidates are still behaving as if it is an early state. And it is

On this date... 1980, US Special Envoy Benjamin Fernandez (R-CA) pulled out of the race for the Republican nomination. [Yeah, I had to look that one up too.] 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican nomination. 2020, Kansas Democrats eliminated in-person voting in their party-run primary due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Think, for just a sec, about those early presidential primary polls

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

FHQ has not weighed in on the polling that continues to be conducted on the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race. Honestly, it takes me three and a half years to get over crunching poll numbers for electoral college projections to want to dig into polling in any in-depth way anyway. But also, it is too early to divine much of anything from the polling that has been coming out in recent days. 

However, polling on that race is coming out frequently and regularly enough. Natalie Jackson offers some sage advice on those surveys over at National Journal:
I know better than to hope for widespread sanity in reporting on the horse race, but I’m still going to put out the plea. Please think critically about the numbers and arguments presented, whether you’re a reporter being fed numbers by a partisan pollster that is shopping them around or you’re a reader consuming what that reporter wrote up. There’s a reason some media outlets won’t report on private partisan polls: They’re usually being distributed for a specific purpose to drive a narrative that benefits their candidate. It’s manipulative, not informative.
It is not quite "ignore those polls!" in the Bernsteinian sense, but instead it is "wait a tick and think some about those polls before incorporating them in any way into one's thinking about the 2024 Republican race." Too true. If you have not already started, always read Natalie.

And as an aside, she is absolutely right about any two-way polls (something FHQ obliquely hinted at in the staff primary section of Monday's Invisible Primary: Visible). Those should not get anything other than a collective eyeroll from everyone. There is no two-way race!

Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is headed to the Super Tuesday state of Utah next month to keynote the Republican state convention in the Beehive state. And it appears that there is already evidence of some structural support for a DeSantis bid in the state. No, it is not necessarily coming from the state party -- although the keynote in front of the convention does not say nothing -- but instead, the interest is coming from the county party level. Taking a page out of Seth Masket's book, the Deseret News spoke with county Republican chairs in 22 of the 29 counties in Utah. Two-thirds of the chairs contacted indicated they were willing to support DeSantis while just fewer than half named Trump.

The former president struggled in Utah during the 2016 primaries when the state party conducted caucuses, losing bigly to Ted Cruz. But the state has subsequently switched to a primary and the signal of institutional support for DeSantis may or may not translate as easily -- even from the county level -- in that setting as opposed to caucuses. Utah is a sleeper contest to watch on Super Tuesday (...depending, of course, on how the early contests go, not to mention the remainder of the invisible primary).

The effort to establish a presidential primary in Kansas is a Republican-driven one, but it looks like the Democratic Party in the Sunflower state is supportive of the change (even if it is only for the 2024 cycle):
"The Kansas Democratic Party has expressed tentative support for a state-run primary. Newly-elected chair Jeanna Repass said it’s extremely expensive for the party to essentially conduct its own statewide election. She said if the party holds a caucus using a mail-in ballot, the printing and postage would cost upwards of $800,000. 
“'Initially, we view this favorably because of the undue financial burden this puts on the individual state parties to run a presidential primary,' Repass said."
And it is not just about the cost savings to the state party. The national party has had rules in place the last two cycles that have nudged state Democratic parties to use state-run primary options where available to increase participation in the nomination process. Already in 2023, state parties in Alaska and North Dakota -- traditional caucus states with no state-run primary option -- have signaled that they will once again opt for party-run primaries rather than lower turnout caucuses for 2024. Kansas Democrats did the same in 2020. So it was an open question when the presidential primary bill was introduced whether Sunflower state Democrats would jump at the state-run option. 

That question appears to have been answered. 

On this date... 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush ran away with the Connecticut primary, and on the Democratic side, Michael Dukakis took the primary in the Nutmeg state. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) withdrew from the Democratic nomination race after having previously won three contests including the Iowa caucuses. 2016, Governor Scott Walker (R) endorsed Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination, part of a late establishment push against a possible Donald Trump nomination.

Alaska Democrats Will Hold an April 6 Party-Run Presidential Primary

A week ago, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, the Alaska Democratic Party quietly released its initial draft delegate selection plan for the 2024 cycle

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- South Carolina's Position in the Republican Nomination Process

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

McClatchy's Alex Roarty has a good bit of invisible primary fare from the Palmetto state. Team DeSantis is beginning its build out in South Carolina, a state that figures to be interesting in the 2024 Republican presidential nomination process. Yes, the first-in-the-South primary will be one of the earliest Republican contests. And yes, there are two South Carolinians -- former Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott -- and a former president who won the South Carolina primary in 2016 (and who has the backing of the current governor and the state's other US senator) who are vying for (or likely to contest) the nomination in 2024. 

But that does not mean that South Carolina is suddenly Iowa 1992 with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) running. No, efforts are underway within the broader DeSantis 2024 effort to hire staff in the state, and a couple of state legislators from the conservative-rich Upstate already look to be on board. State Rep. Josh Kimball (R) is aligned with Never Back Down, the super PAC that has been in the news because of all of its recent activity. And state Sen. Danny Verdin (R) has also spoken favorably of the idea of DeSantis running. These are important moves for any candidate who is building an operation in a state where the big names are either already running or lined up behind another candidate. And if they are not big moves then they are among the only moves a candidate can make in building a network in one of the earliest states on the primary calendar. 

Because, here is the thing about South Carolina: it is unique among the early states. While Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all allocate delegates in a manner proportionate to the results of their contests, South Carolina Republicans do not. The party utilizes and has for years utilized a winner-take-most scheme where the winner statewide and the winners in each of the state's nine congressional districts can take all of the delegates at stake in those jurisdictions. And that is all fine under RNC rules. All four are exempt from the proportionality requirements placed on other states with contests before March 15. 

Any DeSantis ramp up in South Carolina is a nod to both that reality and the potential for a long delegate fight ahead in 2024. A win statewide would likely mean a fairly significant early net delegate advantage coming out of the state and heading into Nevada and beyond to Super Tuesday. That is what favorite sons and daughters, like Scott and Haley, and Trump are banking on. That is what DeSantis is attempting to prevent. The rules matter. That is why, despite South Carolina politicians and a former president/primary winner running, South Carolina will continue to garner attention -- and lots of it -- during the invisible primary in 2023.

Governor Doug Burgum (R-ND) for president? Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to Iowa? Count those two among the invisible primary maneuverings no one expected to start the week. Yet, there was news of both Republicans' activities on Monday. Handicappers may not give either much of a chance at the 2024 Republican presidential nomination -- and to be fair, the Tillis comms team was quick to offer a Sherman-ish statement denying a prospective bid -- but these moves signal that, as Jonathan Bernstein correctly summed it up, "Republican party actors, including politicians, are not acting as if Trump/DeSantis have the nomination wrapped up between them." 

Too true. Neither Burgum nor Tillis may actually formally seek the Republican nomination, but that both are doing things that prospective presidential candidates do is a sign amid all the jockeying for support of donors, of endorsers and of voters. It is a sign that the unprecedented nature of Trump's third run (in the midst of investigations that may bring indictments, if not convictions) brings with it uncertainty. It is a sign that there may be some doubts about the long term viability of a DeSantis run (despite strong organizational signs in the midst of a "bad" week). One or both of Burgum or Tillis may run for 2024, but neither may actually end up running in 2024. Uncertainty about even well-established and well-positioned candidates breeds activity from everyone else with an eye toward the White House. 

In the travel primary, Marianne Williamson drops in on the voters of South Carolina on Tuesday (March 28). Former Vice President Mike Pence heads to Iowa again on Wednesday (March 29), and Vivek Ramaswamy was just there this past weekend. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson struck a different tone in California last week than did Ron DeSantis when the Florida governor trekked through the Golden state earlier this month. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have drawn all the headlines in New Hampshire on Monday (March 27), but former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is also in the Granite state for town halls on Monday and Tuesday.

On this date... 2019, Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam formed an exploratory committee to potentially seek the Democratic nomination. 2020, the date of the New York primary was changed for the first time due to the pandemic, pushing back to June 2.

Monday, March 27, 2023

North Dakota Democrats Aim for April 6 Party-Run Primary in 2024

Late last week, the North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party released its 2024 draft delegate selection plan (DSP) for public comment. 

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Trump and Evangelicals in 2024

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

Tim Alberta had a nice piece up over at The Atlantic over the weekend about Donald Trump's current relationship with the broader evangelical movement. [Always read Alberta.] The takeaway? The former president seemingly burned some bridges with some Christian leaders after he cast blame on pro-life supporters for Republicans' (mis)fortunes in the 2022 midterm elections. It is a deeply reported story and it makes some sense in a climate in which others in the Republican presidential primary electorate are looking around at their options more than they did in 2019 when Trump was up for reelection. 

But there were a couple of interrelated things that kept coming to mind as FHQ read through the story. First, the folks who were quoted in the piece were almost exclusively elites within the evangelical movement (and if not elites, then leaders in some capacity). And second, there was a divide in that segment of the Republican primary electorate in 2016. As Pew showed then, regular church attendees who identified as evangelical gravitated more toward Ted Cruz. Those who carried the same identity but who were less involved in congregations were more likely to side with Trump. While FHQ is not fond of the 2024 comparisons to the 2016 Republican nomination race, it is worth asking whether this same relationship among evangelicals exists in this current invisible primary. 

In other words, does that 2016 divide persist? Is it being animated anew as the Republican presidential field takes shape for 2024? While church leaders and their most committed adherents may be looking around, put out with Trump after eight years, there may be a sizable pocket of evangelicals who are just as evangelical in their identities but less attuned (or not attuned at all) to leaders in the church who are looking to move on from Trump in the primary phase. It is those folks who may miss a unified(-ish) signal from elites in the evangelical movement. This is another one of those "is Trump closer to 2015 than to 2019" questions worth keeping an eye on as 2023 moves forward. [And it merits mention that evangelical leaders were not exactly breaking down the door to back Trump in 2015 and early 2016. But once the primary phase yielded to the general election campaign, the ties grew stronger.]

It is not as if there had been a lot of chatter about Brian Kemp jumping into the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. There had been some, but the talk had seemingly never risen above the "plausible challenger, not seriously considering it" stage. Kemp has some of the conventional characteristics of a presidential aspirant: he's a twice-elected governor (in a swing state, no less), he is a proven fundraiser, and (in the eyes of handicappers in and out of the political media) he fits into the anti-Trump "lane" after his tussle with the former president over the 2020 election results. But, as local media had recently pointed out, while the door was not closed, Kemp was not doing the things that prospective presidential candidates do. There were no trips to Iowa, no national speeches, no new books to hawk.

That door now appears closed. Kemp on Friday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal was quick to dismiss any chances of a run for 2024. So scratch Kemp's name from the list. The field, real or imagined, winnows.

Despite some of the "Desantis is doomed" talk last week (and it entered the vocal doubt phase over the weekend), the broader effort to support the Florida governor's nascent bid for the Republican nomination added to its ranks. Having already brought on Jeff Roe as an adviser last week, Never Back Down, the super PAC aligned with the DeSantis effort hired a former communications hand from the Trump 2020 campaign. And Erin Perrine was already spinning polls over the weekend. 

At first blush, it may look as if Perrine's move to DeSantis is a defection from Trump. But when one considers that Republican campaign operatives had few choices at the presidential level in 2020, and that the party as a whole was firmly behind the former president in the last cycle, the story becomes one more about this cycle than a departure from the last. After all, Perrine, like Jeff Roe, has been aligned with Ted Cruz in the past. And their collective move to Never Back Down and DeSantis may tell us a lot more about a candidate not running this cycle (Cruz) than a former president who is. Regardless, these are important signals in the staff primary as the hiring wars continue. 

On this date... 1984, Gary Hart won the Connecticut primary completing his sweep of states in the northeast.. 1988, Michael Dukakis won the North Dakota Democratic caucuses. 2019, Utah joined Super Tuesday for 2020. 2020, the Ohio primary shifted because of covid to a vote-by-mail primary that would conclude in April. Hawaii Democrats did the same in their party-run primary process. And the Pennsylvania primary was moved to June 2, also because of the pandemic.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

California Bill to Change Primary Date Amended

Earlier this week, significant changes were made to a California Senate bill that, upon its introduction, appeared to affect the date of the consolidated primary, including the presidential primary, in the Golden state.

In fact, the original version of that bill -- SB 24 -- struck the entire section of the California code dealing with various aspects of the primary, leaving the date unspecified. In brief, the introduced bill described the legislation like this:
This bill would change the date of the presidential primary and consolidated statewide direct primary described above to an unspecified date.
As it turns out, however, that was a change meant to serve as a placeholder while the particulars of the intended bill were worked out. The newly amended version of SB 24 was released on Monday, March 20 and revealed that the date of the presidential primary would remain unaffected moving forward. In its place, grander language to put a public financing (of elections) system before the voters of California was inserted. 

California, it seems for now, will remain one of the anchors of Super Tuesday alongside the primary in Texas. 

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Bill Eliminating Idaho Presidential Primary Ready for Governor

The leadership of the Idaho legislature had targeted Friday, March 24 as the last day of the 2023 regular session. 

But that did not happen

Instead, the state Senate dragged through another legislative day at a glacial pace as the state House stood by, finished with its work and awaiting further action from the upper chamber. 

One matter the Senate was able to dispense with was defining the parameters around which the presidential primary will operate for the 2024 cycle. Those bills -- one to eliminate the stand-alone March presidential primary (H 138) and one to consolidate that election with the mid-May primaries for other offices (S 1186) -- were passed on Thursday, March 23. And since the former bill had earlier passed the state House in it current form, the bill was signed by the requisite parties in both chambers and enrolled, ready to be transmitted to the governor for consideration.

But again, that bill merely ends the separate March presidential primary. It does not build the necessary infrastructure into state code to add a presidential line to the May primary for other offices. That amending action is contained in the trailer bill, S 1186. If the amending bill does not also get a thumbs up from the House, then there would simply be no presidential primary in Idaho for 2024. However, that was not the intent of the original bill, incomplete though it may have been. And that likely is not the intent of legislators in the lower chamber either. 

Nonetheless, S 1186 is not yet on the House calendar for when it is due to reconvene on Tuesday, March 28. New to the chamber, the bill would first have to go through committee, and although it has been referred to House State Affairs, S 1186 is not yet on the panel's docket. FHQ is not suggesting that the trailer bill will not be dealt with. It likely will be. The delay is only a function of the end-of-session logjam. 

But what is interesting is that the state Republican Party opposes the primary's shift to May, and it retains the ability to opt for earlier caucuses as a means of assessing presidential preference among Republicans in the state in 2024. Should the governor sign H 138, then proponents of the bill will have gotten at least part of what they wanted out of the 2023 regular session: they will have eliminated the separate presidential primary and saved the state more than $2 million. But the second part of this -- adding the presidential line to the May primary ballot -- becomes superfluous if the state Republican Party ultimately opts to caucus instead of using the later primary. 

The legislative delay at the end of this session, then, may provide legislators (if not the Idaho Republican Party) some time to consider those options in a way that may affect further progress on S 1186. In other words, that action could be saved for a special session (should one be called) after the Republican state central committee makes any decisions on its 2024 delegate selection process. The party may not want to conduct caucuses, but it also does not want such a late presidential primary. It would appear to be a bit of a lose-lose proposition for state Republicans at the moment. 

Yet, that is all speculative. The state legislature will answer some if not all of these questions as it presumably wraps up its regular session work in the week ahead. 

See more on our political/electoral consulting venture at FHQ Strategies. 

Friday, March 24, 2023