Thursday, June 1, 2023

Republican Sound and Fury in Nevada Over 2024 Presidential Primary, Signifying Little

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • Folks are starting to look more at the 2024 primary calendar and while there is uncertainty as to its final state, it can be narrowed down to a limited number of questions in a handful of states. An update on the calendar at FHQ Plus.
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In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
FHQ had a number of interesting conversations on the periphery of the news about the lawsuit filed last week by Nevada Republicans to seek relief from (future) enforcement of the new presidential primary law in the Silver state. One can read the brief FHQ take on the matter at the link above, but we would also recommend the piece by Derek Muller at Election Law Blog and the Nevada Independent rundown of things from the Silver state perspective.

It is a strange lawsuit. 

It is strange because, according to the NV Indy report, the Nevada secretary of state's office interprets the code created by the 2021 bill to allow for a party to conduct caucuses in lieu of the newly created state-run presidential primary. Furthermore, legislation also considered and passed during the same legislative session in 2021 unentangled the state from the business of the state parties organizing themselves, something that conflicted with an amendment to that section of the code in the presidential primary bill. But the repeal of those sections overrode the one amendment included in that primary bill.

So why all of the fuss from Nevada Republicans?

Well, for starters, the party is fundraising off of the lawsuit. [That is a screengrab of the splash page when one navigates to the Nevada Republican Party web page as of this writing.] But that is perhaps an unconventional (but increasingly conventional) way to raise funds, via lawsuit.

But also there is a potential national party angle here as well. No, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is not pushing Nevada Republicans to sue, not directly anyway. However, national party rules may present something of a problem to Nevada Republicans should there be a beauty contest primary but also caucuses that would serve as the official method by which the state party would allocate and select delegates to the national convention.

The problem? Consider the situation in Michigan. 

Democrats in control of the state government in Lansing passed a bill earlier this year that was subsequently signed into law moving the presidential primary in the Great Lakes state to late February for 2024. But that is in violation of RNC rules on the timing of primaries and caucuses. That, in turn and in part, may prompt Michigan Republicans to conduct caucuses in order to avoid sanction from the national party. 

But that is a problem. Later and compliant caucuses would necessarily have to follow the noncompliant February presidential primary in Michigan. Yet, RNC rules also require that any statewide vote be used as the contest on which delegate allocation must be based. With the noncompliant statewide primary vote coming first, it would have to be used as the data from which delegate allocation is to be allocated. 

See the issue here? Nevada Republicans, even if they have the cover to conduct caucuses as the Nevada secretary of state's office suggests, would be forced to conduct those caucuses either alongside the state-run primary or before it -- constraining the party's choices -- to avoid running afoul of the RNC rules. 

Or so it would seem. 

The situations in Michigan and Nevada, however, are different. Candidate filing is different. Candidates actually file to appear on the primary ballot in Nevada. They do not in Michigan, where the secretary of state merely creates a list of recognized candidates to appear on the primary ballot. If Nevada Republicans plan to hold caucuses on, say, February 13 -- after the February 6 primary -- and allocate delegates based on that, then the candidates will file with the state party and not with the state to be on the primary ballot. If no candidates file -- or if just one files -- then there would be no Republican primary in Nevada under current law. There would be no earlier statewide vote to conflict with a later official caucus vote. There would be no RNC penalties. 

It would appear, then, that Nevada Republicans already have the answers they need and do not really need the lawsuit. Unless they are just looking to raise funds for the caucuses. But again, this is a strange lawsuit.

Allan Smith over at NBC News has a great deep dive on the alleged problems in Republican-aligned canvassing efforts. Look, it is likely that the "problem" is overstated in the piece -- close election losses rarely come down to just one factor -- but that does not mean canvassing on the Republican side does not fall short of what Democrats are doing. And the issue with paid volunteers is particularly important given all of the hiring that outside groups like the DeSantis-affiliated super PAC, Never Back Down, are doing in states on Super Tuesday and earlier on the calendar

Invisible Primary quick hits:
  • In the staff primary, Donald Trump hired Eric Hollander to oversee operations in Iowa and New Hampshire. Hollander's presidential campaign experience includes being a part of the Cruz operation in South Carolina in 2016 before moving on to lead the campaign in Illinois, a state with notoriously difficult delegate rules.
  • It was nice to see some actual analysis in press coverage of the steep odds a late-entry Glenn Youngkin bid for the Republican nomination would face.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence will enter the presidential race on Wednesday, June 7 in Iowa. Pence will be a part of a busy week for candidate entry with Chris Christie set to announce Tuesday in New Hampshire and Doug Burgum launching his campaign on Wednesday as well.
  • The busy travel primary week in Iowa continues on Thursday. Donald Trump returns to the Hawkeye state in the wake of DeSantis stops there. Senator Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride is also this weekend in Iowa.

On this date... 1976, another late-season series of contests saw split results in both parties' competitive nomination races. President Gerald Ford took the Rhode Island primary while former California Governor Ronald Reagan continued his dominance out west, winning primaries in Montana (beauty contest) and South Dakota. On the Democratic side, Jimmy Carter topped the field in South Dakota, but lost to Idaho Senator Frank Church in Montana and an uncommitted slate (aligned with California Governor Jerry Brown) in Rhode Island. 2004, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry won primaries in Alabama and South Dakota and President George W. Bush won primaries in the Yellowhammer state as well as in New Mexico. 2008, New York Senator Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico Democratic primary, but still trailed Barack Obama in the delegate count late in a tight race for the Democratic nomination. 2015, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) officially joined the growing field of candidates vying for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. 2019, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declines to challenge President Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.


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