Thursday, March 9, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Doing the things that prospective candidates do

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

One of FHQ's typical bits of invisible primary advice is to look at actions not words when trying to divine what it is that candidates or prospective candidates are up to in the early going. Only, in 2023 on the Democratic side, there is something of an exception to that rule. President Biden is doing all of the things that a prospective candidate for reelection does. While he has drawn a challenger, all of the arguably most viable alternatives are not readying for long and divisive bids. In fact, many of them have already signed on to advise the president in his quest for reelection. Those around the president are suggesting he is running and the president has hinted at it himself. The only thing he has not done is say, "I'm running."

But that has not stopped a steady stream of stories in recent days from reporting on planning going on in the event that he does not throw his hat in the ring or speculation about the field of candidates that could line up to seek the nomination in his stead. All of this, of course, belies the reality presented above.  And races involving the incumbent are usually boring. The same things happened four years ago on the Republican side. But then it was stories about Weld, Sanford and Walsh, how Trump was going to play the delegate game and Republican state parties opting out of contests. It is the same thus far in 2023. But replace those Republican stories from four years ago with stories about Biden's (similarly weak) challengers and the primary calendar shake up (which is also being spun as an incumbent defense). 

There may be some there there in the Democratic presidential nomination process in 2024, but it is a relatively small there. Actions, not words.

In the travel primary, T-minus one day until DeSantis descends on Iowa for the first time. And there is a Las Vegas stop in early primary (caucus?) state, Nevada, on Saturday as well.

The contests in four states conflict with Passover next year. [Yep.] One of those states, Maryland is on top of it: 
The Maryland House speaker and Senate president both came out in favor of changing the date for next year’s primary. A spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, told JI on Tuesday that he “supports moving next year’s primary Election Day so it does not fall on Passover.”

But the Jewish Insider goes on...
In Pennsylvania, no such effort is yet underway. 
[Uh, well...]

Actually, there is an effort to move the Pennsylvania presidential primary. Two of them, in fact. Passover may not be the impetus for that change, but there is a change in the works. Oh, but JI goes on...
There is currently another push in Pennsylvania to change the Democratic presidential primary date for 2024. Democratic legislators introduced a bill to move the Democratic presidential primary next year a month earlier, to March 19, to give Pennsylvania a bigger say in the party’s nominating contest. If it were implemented, that bill would not affect the Republican primary — still set for April 23 — or other statewide primaries set to take place on that date.
That is not how this works. States may move a consolidated primary up. [And that is what is happening in the two bills proposed in Pennsylvania.] They may split a presidential primary off from the rest in order to schedule it earlier. But rarely does a state split up a consolidated primary and then schedule two separate presidential primary elections. That is just too expensive for most states. South Carolina stands out as the only state with two separate, state-run presidential primaries; one for each party. But the Palmetto state is the exception to the rule.

On this date... 1976, Jimmy Carter bested George Wallace in the Florida presidential primary, seen as a southern elimination contest after Carter's victories earlier on the calendar. Wallace had won the primary in the Sunshine state in 1972. 1980, John Connally (R-TX) pulled out of the Republican nomination race, raising and spending a lot of money along the way to win one delegate. 1992, Tom Harkin (D-IA) withdrew from the Democratic nomination race following wins in the Iowa, Idaho and Minnesota caucuses. 2000, it was the day of the South Carolina Democratic firehouse primary. It was the last cycle that South Carolina Democrats held a contest after Super Tuesday. It was also the day that both Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gave up bids for their respective nominations after big Super Tuesday losses. 2004, it was (again) the day of the Florida presidential primary. The contest in the Sunshine state had not moved from that second Tuesday in March position on which it had been conducted since the beginning of the post-reform era. Florida, infamously, was not in that same position in 2008.

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