Showing posts with label special session. Show all posts
Showing posts with label special session. Show all posts

Monday, July 13, 2015

Washington State Will Have a 2016 Presidential Primary, but Caucuses, too

Working against a deadline, the Washington state legislature finished up not only a (third) 2015 special session, but completed work on a 2015-17 budget during the last week in June as well. This work had some impact on the 2016 presidential primary in the Evergreen state. Before digging into that impact, let's look at how the state parties have traditionally allocated delegates in Washington and how that set up the debate over the 2016 primary in the legislature.

For starters, Washington state parties had used a caucus/convention system to determine presidential preference in order select and allocate delegates to the national conventions in the earliest cycles of the post-reform era (1972-1988). After the 1988 cycle, however, an initiative push brought a presidential primary election to the northwest. In the time since that 1989 initiative, Democrats have never utilized the primary as a means of selecting, allocating or binding delegates. Instead, the Washington Democratic Party has opted to stick with the caucus/convention system.

Republicans in the Evergreen state have, depending on the cycle, used a two-step process with delegates being allocated based on the results of both the primary and caucuses. The rules have not been uniform over that post-initiative period for Republicans. In 2000, for instance, Washington Republicans allocated only a third of the the delegates apportioned them by the Republican National Committee via the primary. The remaining delegates were bound to candidates based on results from the caucus/convention process. Eight years later, during the 2008 cycle, Washington Republicans kept the two-step primary-caucus process, but nearly equalized the number of delegates allocated based on the results of each contest. This time 51% of the Republican delegates were allocated through the primary and the rest in the caucuses.

Republicans in Washington, then, have some history with a presidential primary. Democrats there do not.

That has some influence on how each state party and those affiliated with each in the state legislature approach the primary every four years. When Democrats control the state government and/or when Republicans do not have a competitive nomination on the horizon, the likelihood of the presidential primary being cancelled by the state legislature increase. Those reasons contributed to cancelations for the 2004 and 2012 cycles. The justification for the budget expense to fund the contest just is not there in all cycles (dependent on the political conditions in the state at a given point in time).

Unlike 2011, Democrats did not control all the levers of presidential primary decision-making in 2015. While the party retained the governor's mansion and the lower House of the legislature, Republicans won control of the state Senate following the 2014 midterm elections and the state elected a Republican secretary of state who pushed for the primary early on in 2015. That made a repeat of the 2011 cancelation a tougher sell. In fact, it was only after a bill began to work its way through the Republican-controlled state Senate to move the primary from May to March that a bill to cancel the presidential primary was even proposed by Democrats in control in the House.

This set up a stalemate on whether to move or cancel the primary between the two chambers, but it also created an impasse in the budget process over whether to appropriate funds for the election. In the case of the former, the Republican-controlled Washington Senate passed the bill to move the primary to March, but it later got bottled up in committee on the House side as the regular session drew to a close. Additionally, Washington Democrats made clear with the release their draft 2016 delegate selection plan that the party once again had no intention of utilizing any state-funded primary; at least not for allocating national convention delegates to candidates.

All of the legislation to either move or cancel the presidential primary carried over from the regular session to the first special session at the tail end of April. And the state Senate once again sent the May to March primary move bill back over to the state House. However, that was the point where the move or cancel impasse gave way to the fund or don't fund debate between the chambers. And to be clear, the two are not mutually exclusive. Not funding the primary would have canceled it, but state law calls for the election and thus the funding if there is no bill passed to cancel the election. With neither bill -- cancel or move -- likely to move, that basically forced the hand of the legislature. They had to -- and did in SB 6052 -- fund the presidential primary election, appropriating $11.5 million for an election that will apparently have a bearing on the allocation of just half of the Washington Republican delegates.

So, there is a presidential primary in Washington for 2016. What does that mean?

For Democrats in the state it means a beauty contest. Democrats can vote in the open primary (after declaring affiliation with the party), but it will not affect delegate allocation to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The only benefit the Washington Democratic Party will derive from the primary is a list of participants they can use to target voters in the fall general election.

Democrats will caucus on Saturday, March 26.

The picture on the Republican side is less clear. If the party caucuses on the date they used in 2012 -- the first Saturday in March -- then they will caucus on March 5. That is just speculative though. The date of the primary is equally as unclear. It is clear now by law: Tuesday, May 24. Yet, the secretary of state -- Republican Kim Wyman in this case -- has the option of calling party leaders from both sides together to agree on an alternative. That was something that happened in June 2007 as the primary was moved into February accompanying February caucuses for both parties. And it appears at this point as if Wyman will do just that, targeting the same March 8 date embedded in the legislation to move the primary in the first place.

That would mean at least a couple of things. First, the Washington primary would be aligned with the primary in neighboring Idaho on March 8. That would make the pair the only contiguous states on that date; a potential draw to presidential candidates. However, it would also create a compact two-step primary-caucus if the caucuses end up on the preceding Saturday, March 5. There were ten days separating the Republican primary and caucuses in 2008, but a three day window for a double dip on the heels of Super Tuesday/SEC primary date could prove to be a coup of sorts for Washington Republicans.

We have a few more answers about the nomination process in Washington next year, but a handful of questions remain on the Republican side as the summer of 2015 stretches on.

Thanks to Jim Riley for the heads up on the Washington budget bill that passed in June.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hutchinson's Signature Moves 2016 Arkansas Presidential Primary to March

Quickly on the heels of the Arkansas state legislature wrapping up the business of its special session on Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) signed SB 8 into law on Friday, May 29. The newly changed statute would shift the consolidated May Arkansas primaries, including the presidential primary, to the first Tuesday in March.

Arkansas now joins Tennessee and Texas on the March 1 SEC primary date on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. And despite all the legislative wrangling in both the regular and special sessions, Arkansas becomes the first state to officially move into that calendar position for 2016 during the 2015 state legislative season.1 SEC primary legislation failed in Mississippi and awaits the governor's consideration in Alabama. Georgia is also very likely to wind up on March 1.

Arkansas will share that March 1 date with those states plus neighboring Oklahoma as well as Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Virginia. However, the primary in the Natural state will return to its May date at the end of 2016.

1 Tennessee changed its law during 2011 for the 2012 cycle and Texas, not a part of the original SEC primary proposal, reverted to its first Tuesday in March primary date after a redistricting dispute in 2011-12 forced a temporary change. Though Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has coordinated the SEC primary effort (and holds the ultimate power to set the date of the presidential primary in the Peach state), he has not officially scheduled the 2016 Georgia presidential primary. However, it is pretty clear where Georgia will end up on the calendar.

Thanks to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News sending news of the signing on to FHQ.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Arkansas House Sends SEC Primary Bill Off to Governor Hutchinson

The Arkansas House on Thursday, May 28 passed SB 8 by a vote of 67-22. The amended version of the bill would shift the primaries for a number of offices -- including the presidential primary -- from the mid-May to the first Tuesday in March during the 2016 cycle. The compromise hammered out in the state Senate would expire at the end of 2016 returning the Arkansas primaries to May for subsequent cycles.

The House had already passed its version of the bill that would have permanently set the date of the consolidated primary for March. That same bill faced resistance in the state Senate though, forcing the compromise to only make the primaries date change for the 2016 cycle. The House passed the compromise version by a wider margin than the permanent change.

The bill now heads to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) who supported the change in his call for a special session last week.

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Arkansas Senate Passes Compromise SEC Primary Bill

Arkansas legislators worked into the evening on day two of the current special session yesterday. After failing to gather enough votes to suspend the rules and consider SB 8 on the floor of the state Senate1, senators in support of the move to join the SEC primary on March 1 redoubled their efforts to push the measure through.

Those efforts by majority party Republicans included cutting a deal with state Senate Democrats to make the move of the consolidated primary -- including the presidential primary -- to March 1 temporary. Under the provisions of the amended bill, the Arkansas presidential primary will move into the SEC primary position on the calendar, but only for the 2016 cycle. The election would automatically revert to its current May position at the end of 2016 (for the 2020 cycle). This would either save future legislators from having to change the date back to May as they have in other instances when Arkansas has moved its presidential primary forward on the calendar (see 1988 and 2008) or force them to revisit whether to hold an early primary again in 2020 and beyond.

The amended SB 8 emerged from the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee with a "Do Pass" recommendation and was subsequently passed by a 28-6 vote by the full Senate. The measure now heads to the House for consideration. The lower chamber passed the original (unamended/permanent) version of the SEC primary bill on Wednesday.

For more see coverage from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

1 The chamber was able to gain enough support to extract the bill from committee, but not enough to meet the supermajority requirement to consider the bill immediately. Without that supermajority, the bill, by rule, had to wait two calendar days before the chamber could consider it. That would have pushed the special session, originally scheduled to adjourn on Thursday, May 28, into Saturday.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Arkansas House Passes SEC Primary Bill

The Arkansas state House on Wednesday, May 27 passed HB 1006. By a vote of 56-32, the House passed the bill that would shift all primary elections in the Natural state up to the first Tuesday in March from May. Though the legislation faced resistance before getting to committee on the first day of the Arkansas special session and witnessed a number of legislators speaking against the bill on the floor today, HB 1006 passed and will now head to the Senate side of the capitol.1

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee rejected an identical bill in on day one of the special session. The real test for this version of an SEC primary bill -- a movement of a consolidated primary -- will be in the upper chamber.

1 Those speaking against the bill mostly cited problems associated with moving all of the primaries forward. That had less to do specifically with the presidential primary and dealt more with adjustments required for the primaries for the legislators themselves.

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Identical SEC Primary Bills Introduced With Mixed Reviews in Arkansas

Given the small window in which the Arkansas legislature has to act during the special session this week, things are likely to move at an expedited pace. While one anti-SEC primary bill was the first introduced on the session's first day a day ago, it was not the only bill filed. But as it turned out, HB 1002 was not the only ominous sign for the Arkansas effort to join the SEC primary on March 1 either.

The Arkansas state House and Senate also the introduction of identical bills to move all of the primaries in the Natural state from May to March. Both versions saw opposition. On the House side, HB 1006 was objected to during its introduction and second reading. However, opponents did not have the numbers to prevent the bill from being referred to the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. That committee later in the day sent the bill along to the floor with a "Do Pass" recommendation. 

The story was different in the Senate. The state Senate version of the SEC primary bill faced no pushback on its way to committee, but once it was in the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee the effort to move SB 8 along failed. Minority party Democrats voted against the legislation, effectively bottling the bill up in the committee.1 

This was one of the questions FHQ posed on the call of the the special session last week. During the regular session earlier this year, the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee (and later the full Senate) passed an SEC primary bill, but one that would have followed the example of previous Arkansas presidential primary shifts. It would have created a separate presidential primary and left all other primary election in May. An alternate bill -- one similar to the special session bill, SB 8 -- that would have moved all Arkansas primaries to March failed in committee. Entering the special session, it was an open question whether the Senate committee would balk at similar legislation (even with the governor's backing). 

It appears that question has now been answered. Though SB 8 quickly stalled in committee, the bill's sponsor, Senator Gary Stubblefield (R-6th, Branch), is contemplating discharging it from committee for consideration on the floor of the state Senate.

Overall, day one of the Arkansas special legislative session was not necessarily a positive one with respect to the SEC primary move. There was resistance in both chambers. That said, the state House will take up its version of the SEC primary bill on day two.

1 Democrats on the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee objected to moving all Arkansas primaries to March on the grounds that it would push up filing deadlines and force campaigning into holiday season in the year before the election:
Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, said it could result in an unfair advantage to incumbents. 
"You're talking about campaigning over Thanksgiving and Christmas," Chesterfield said. "We're talking about campaigning in some of the most treacherous weather around."
Others warned that history might repeat itself:
Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, also questioned whether an earlier primary date would increase Arkansas influence. With former Gov. Mike Huckabee seeking the Republican nomination and former Arkansas first-lady Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning for the Democratic nomination, most other candidates would be reluctant to spend much time here, she suggested.
Arkansas last moved its presidential primary forward for the 2008 cycle and saw both Huckabee and Clinton run then as well. That had most candidates campaigning elsewhere, yielding the state to its favorite children.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First Presidential Primary Bill of Arkansas Special Session Does Not Call for SEC Primary Date

In a sign of what may yet come in the short special session this week in Arkansas, the opening salvo in the effort to join the SEC primary on March 1 does not actually call for moving the presidential primary in the Natural state to March. Instead, Representative Nate Bell (R-20th, Mena), who derailed the regular session bill to create a separate presidential primary scheduled for the SEC primary date, went in a different direction.

On the opening day of the three day special session, Rep. Bell introduced HB 1002. This legislation would bump up the date of the Arkansas consolidated primary, but only to the first Tuesday in May for the 2016 cycle. Under current law, the Arkansas primary would be held on May 24, three weeks later than the proposed date from Bell. Additionally, Bell's bill would also require the state House and Senate Committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs to "study the effects and benefits of holding the preferential primary election and the general primary election in May" after the 2016 cycle.1

These study committees have come up from time to time and tend to lead nowhere; as in the presidential primary does not move. That was the case when Indiana in 2009 talked about but did not ultimately study the benefits of moving out of the Hoosier state's typical early May primary for something earlier.

In the Arkansas case, the study committee may be nothing more than a stall tactic. Bell chairs the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee and bottled up the previous, regular session bill there. That he has proposed alternative legislation may signal that he is willing to do the same with any SEC primary bill that may once again come over from the state Senate (with the governor's support). This is just a three day session, so running out the clock is very much an option that is on the table as far as the Arkansas effort to join the SEC primary.

1 The "general primary election" is what the runoff system is called in Arkansas. The "preferential primary election" that precedes it is what is called a primary election in the majority of states.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hutchinson's Call for Special Session Includes Arkansas Presidential Primary Move

Under a proclamation from Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) a special session of the Arkansas legislature will convene on Tuesday, May 26.1

For our purposes here at FHQ the most noteworthy item on the governor's agenda for the session is "to move the full Arkansas primary elections from May to March". This is an expected move, but an interesting one. The bill (SB 389) that passed the state Senate during the regular session -- and was subsequently withdrawn after it was bottled up in committee on the House -- proposed to create and fund a separate presidential preferential primary election for the first Tuesday in March. That would have left the other primaries back in May.

That separate presidential primary would cost the state an estimated $1.6 million.

But it should be noted that a bill (SB 765) similar to the one the governor is asking the legislature to consider was also proposed during the regular session by the same legislator who introduced the separate presidential primary legislation, Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-6th, Branch). That bill, when considered beside SB 389, was discarded in committee in the state Senate.

That raises an interesting question: If the Arkansas state House opposes a separate primary, and the state Senate opposes moving a consolidated primary up to March 1, is this special session headed for an impasse? That depends. Did the state Senate committee really oppose the consolidated bill or did it just prefer the separate presidential primary option? If it is the former, then an standoff is likely. However, if it preferred the separate presidential primary option, it may not have opposed the consolidated primary option if it was the only one available.

Either way, that leaves some questions to be answered in a very short three day special session next week.

UPDATE (5/21/15): The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has more details on the presidential primary proposal from Governor Hutchinson. All the primaries would be moved from May to the first Tuesday in March, but the fiscal session of the state legislature would be shifted from February to April as well. That latter move would eliminate the conflict of legislators campaigning in the midst of their work on budgetary/appropriations matters. Hypothetically, campaigning would potentially affect  deliberations on those matters. This is a long-standing norm in Arkansas and other states. It is also something FHQ has discussed before in the context of an Arkansas presidential primary move.

Democrats in the state legislative minority are raising holiday and weather concerns (similar to minority party Democrats in Nevada), but Republicans are countering that the change is being made in time for everyone to adjust (via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette):
[State Senate Democratic Leader Keith] Ingram said that moving all the state's primaries from May to March will create problems, lead to campaigning during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and devastate state and local primary races if an ice storm occurs on primary day.
But [Speaker of the House, Republican Jeremy] Gillam said that "we are doing it early enough that everybody will have plenty of time to adjust the calendars, whether it be just on making a decision to run for office or how to conduct the elections.

1 The text of press release on the call for a special session:
Governor Asa Hutchinson Makes Official Call for Special Legislative Session
Agenda Items Focus on Economic Development and Government Efficiencies

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has made the official call to legislators for a special session of the 90th General Assembly that will convene Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Along with the official call, the Governor has announced all items on the special session agenda below.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: “This limited agenda focuses on job creation and economic development, while highlighting government efficiencies that will ultimately result in savings to all Arkansas taxpayers.”

Agenda items are as follows:
To consider an Amendment 82 “super project” at Highland Industrial Park in Calhoun County.

To consider reorganization of state agencies to provide efficiencies, better services and savings:
 » Merging the Arkansas Department of Rural Services (ADRS) with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC)
 » Merging the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (ASTA) with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) » Merging the Arkansas Building Authority (ABA) with the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA)
 » Merging the Division of Land Survey with the Arkansas Geographic Information Office (AGIO) 

To make a minor fix to DWI law to assure continuation of federal highway funds.

To ensure that state law aligns with potential changes in federal law regarding farm-equipment traffic on a new section of interstate highway.

To correct technical errors made to bills when amendments were engrossed.

To move the full Arkansas primary elections from May to March.

To move the General Assembly’s fiscal session from February to April.

To honor Johnson County Deputy Sheriff Sonny Smith.

To confirm Gubernatorial appointments.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Arkansas Governor Promises SEC Presidential Primary Will Be on Special Session Agenda

Arkansas is a week away from convening a supposed special session of the state legislature, but there has been no official call nor a list of agenda items from Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) yet. That appears to be coming on Wednesday, May 20.

However, the governor has made assurances to the sponsor of the two regular session SEC primary bills that the presidential primary date would be on the agenda for one of the likely two planned special sessions; one to deal with economic development next week and another to deal with Medicare in the future. Though the separate presidential primary bill was the one that moved (before stalling) during the regular session, Hutchinson has hinted that a new version of the bill to move all of the Arkansas primaries, including the presidential primary, from May to the first Tuesday in March may be the preferred option for the special session.

Such a bill would have the effect of lengthening the general election campaigns of state legislators among other officeholders in the Natural state. That has its costs but is different than creating and funding a separate presidential primary election.

For now, there is an answer to the question of whether the primary will make it onto the special session docket. It will, but it is not clear the session in which it will be brought up. Time will tell.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Arkansas Special Session May Include Measure to Move Presidential Primary to March

Though the official call has yet to go out, it appears as if the Arkansas state legislature will convene a special session starting on May 26.

As is the case in some other states (see Missouri), it is the governor's responsibility in Arkansas to not only call the special session of the legislature but also to define the issues/bills with which the session will deal. Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday, May 11 said that constitutional amendments and bonds issues dealing with the so-called "super project" industrial area would be on the agenda. But the timing of the 2016 presidential primary in the Natural state has also been discussed as a possible agenda item after failing to pass during the regular session.

It looks as if legislators may have the same options they had during the regular session also: Create and schedule a separate presidential primary (as Arkansas has done twice before -- 1988 and 2008) or move all of the primaries from May to March. Bills covering both possibilities were filed in the Arkansas state Senate by Senator Gary Stubblefield (R-6th, Branch) earlier this year. However, only the bill to create a separate presidential primary in March passed the Senate before getting bottled up in the state House.

Part of the reason that bill died was because of the $1.6 million price tag for the separate election. That issue may be resolved by moving a consolidated election from May to March, but that move would affect the renominations of state legislators themselves; a factor that has made legislators in Arkansas (and elsewhere) hesitant to support such measures.

The official call for the special session is due later this month according to the governor's office.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Washington State Senate Opens Special Session By Sending Presidential Primary Bill Back to the House

After adjourning the regular session last Friday, the Washington state legislature was back at work on Wednesday, April 29, starting a special session mainly focused on lingering budget differences between the divided chambers.

But one other unresolved issue -- among others -- that has some potential impact on the budget for fiscal year 2016 is whether the state will conduct a presidential primary. State Democrats have already committed to a caucuses/convention system for 2016. The question now is whether (and when) Washington will hold a presidential primary in 2016 and whether it is worth the $11.5 million price tag to hold a partially meaningful primary just for Republicans.1 The Republican-controlled state Senate provided the first move on the matter on the opening day of the special session, passing SB 5978 again -- by a vote of 31-13 -- and sending it back to the Democratic-controlled House for the lower chamber's consideration.

As was the case during the original Senate passage of SB 5978, there were a handful of Democrats who voted with Senate Republicans to hold a presidential primary in 2016 and schedule it for the second Tuesday in March (March 8). But the bigger issue now before the legislature is the budget and the $11.5 million for the presidential primary may serve as a bargaining chip, albeit small in the grand scheme of the budget, as that gets sorted out.

1 Washington Republicans in the past have split their delegate allocation nearly evening between the primary (when there is one) and caucuses.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Legislation Introduced to Eliminate Missouri Presidential Primary for 2012

Missouri has had more second chances to set the date of its presidential primary or eliminate it than Stephen Garcia had stay on as Steve Spurrier's quarterback at South Carolina.  And yet, neither has happened yet.

The latest, following Monday's Senate rejections of all possible remedies to the situation left an $8 million state expenditure for a non-binding primary, is probably the last last-ditch effort Missouri will get before the Show Me state special session comes to a close. House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller (R-139th, Willard) today introduced legislation (HB 10) in the House to eliminate the presidential primary for the 2012 cycle. Depending on the national party delegate selection rules for 2016, that would leave Missouri at the front of the pack -- according to the various state election laws -- on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to start the 2016 calendar shuffling.

So, we have that to potentially look forward to.

For now, however, this bill, if passed, would save the state from seemingly wasting money in a tight budgetary context on a presidential primary timed at a point that would cost the Republican delegation to the 2012 Tampa convention half its members.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Around, Around It Goes in Missouri. Where It Stops Nobody Knows

FHQ just got done listening to a fascinating nearly-three hour floor debate in the Missouri Senate over the scheduling of the presidential primary in the Show Me state. And to say the rollercoaster ride to move the primary to March has been utterly crazy is, I think, understating the matter greatly. The debate this evening, though, served as a perfect microcosm of the whole process.

Given the option to move the primary to January, the chamber voted no.

Given the option to require the candidate appearing on the November general election ballot in Missouri be contingent upon having appeared on the primary ballot, the chamber voted no.

Given the option to move the presidential primary back to March, the chamber voted no.

Given the option to eliminate the primary altogether for 2012 only, the chamber voted no.

Again, this was a microcosm of the entire presidential primary date consideration in the Missouri General Assembly all year. Simply put, neither chamber could come to a consensus about what to do about the primary. Correction, neither chamber could come to a consensus that both chambers and the governor could agree to.

Let's look at each of the above votes in turn because they deserve some more in-depth attention than the fact that each got rejected. FHQ will wait on the daily journal for the session today before attempting to describe all the amendments to amendments that were offered. It got confusing after a while. In fact, after all the the measures failed one of the proponents of an earlier primary had to ask what had been voted on, not realizing that the elimination of the primary amendment had failed. FHQ, then, will simply refer to these as votes and leave it at that.

As for the January primary move, Senator Brad Lager (R-12th) proposed the amendment under the logic that if the national party was going to look down on a February date, then move the Missouri primary up to show constituents that the legislature wanted the voters' voices heard. Senator Lager was acting in the way that many in the Florida primary discussion in the state legislature there were -- to make a statement on the current system. Nevermind that the bill in its amended form -- such that the primary would have been on January 3, 2012 -- would never have passed the House and/or the governor. Of course, Lager was willing to defer to the will of the body and did once the measure was rejected by a 10-22 vote.

The March primary move was then discussed but prior to it being voted on another amendment was added to force the Missouri Republican Party to switch back to the primary from the caucus. The means by which the Senate saw as necessary to accomplish this was by requiring that a party's presidential candidate on the general election ballot in Missouri have appeared on the presidential primary ballot as well. This was seen as a stick by the members pushing this amendment -- to get the state party to request a waiver from the, in this case, RNC to move to a compliant primary after the October 1 deadline. None of the members felt they had any level of assurance that the state party would make the switch. One thing that did come up was that the Missouri Republican Party only switched a caucus system to avoid the penalties associated with a non-compliant February primary. But none of the senators felt confident in the switch back. [FHQ note: Parties that readily accept the state-funded primary are rarely incentivized to switch to a caucus the party would have to pay for when a state-funded option is on the table.] The fallout on this move was too much for the state Senate. Some were worried that a legal battle with the federal government [not to mention the national party] if by some chance a candidate was not on the primary ballot and could not then appear on the general election ballot. That, too, was defeated but by a voice vote.

Then the March primary move amendment came up for further discussion and a vote. And again, like the other amendments, it was voted down, 12-20, mainly because no one in the chamber felt comfortable with relying on the state party to move back to a primary.

The final vote came on the overarching Senate substitute to the House committee substitute to HB 3. The House-passed bill would have moved the primary to March and raised the filing fee for presidential candidates. The Senate substitute would have eliminated the presidential primary for 2012 -- bringing it back for February 2016 -- and struck the filing fee increase as well. The discussion on this one was fairly limited compared to the other discussions, but the vote ended the same: a tied 16-16 vote which prevented passage.

What does all of this mean? Well, aside from the reality that no consensus could ever be reached it means that Missouri will hold a meaningless presidential primary on February 7. That will cost the state up to an estimated $8 million and force the parties into holding caucuses. The Republicans had already selected a March 17 start date for its caucuses, but the Missouri Democratic Party has been awaiting a resolution to this impasse. that is apparently not on the horizon.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Utah GOP Gets Presidential Line on June 26 Primary Ballot

[Click to Enlarge]

Back in June the Utah Republican Party made the decision to allocate delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa using a primary in lieu of caucus meetings. The only problem at the time was that legally there was no place for the presidential primary on the June 26 primary ballot that typically only has contests for state and local offices. That changed over the past couple of weeks when the state legislature proposed and passed legislation in special session adding the presidential vote to the June primary. The bill -- SB 30041 -- was signed by Governor Gary Herbert on Thursday. That option will now be available to both parties in the future when funding is not appropriated by the legislature for the (still, by statute, scheduled in February) Western States Presidential Primary.

This seems like a ho-hum sort of move. It is.

...for 2012.

The move brings Utah in line with a great many other states that hold presidential primaries concurrently with primaries for state and local offices. What will make Utah different from those states in the future is that the state parties will have the ability -- should the legislature put it in the budget -- to opt into an earlier primary already codified into law. Assuming the economic ship has been righted to some extent by 2015 and that the national parties have done little to change the rules behind the formation of the presidential primary calendar, Utah could challenge the calendar by opting into the February primary. Now, for that scenario to work, you would probably have to assume that President Obama is reelected next year. Otherwise, Republican-controlled Utah is not going to be motivated to appropriate funds for what those in power view as an unnecessary contest. The tricky party, at least from the Utah perspective, is that Utah Democrats would have no options. The presidential line being included on the June primary ballot is contingent upon funds not being allocated for the separate February primary. Utah Democrats would have to choose between a more than likely non-compliant primary and holding caucuses as they are doing in 2012.

The states probably don't need any more help in the process of the presidential primary calendar date setting. They are doing just fine, thanks. But this either/or strategy is an interesting one that other states may consider in the future.  The contingency factor layered into the Utah law would have to be removed, but a law that allows parties to opt into a primary that is early/non-compliant in the process and a fallback option that piggybacked on a preexisting primary for state and local offices could be a workable plan in some states. I say some states because states with primaries for state and local office that fall after the second week in June would conflict with national party rules on the backend of the calendar. Those states with late August and early September primaries would have less flexibility than other states on this.

A tip of the cap to Tony Roza at The Green Papers for the news.

1 Text of SB 3004 can be found here.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

In Utah, One More Step to a June 26 Presidential Primary

Back in June, the Utah Republican Party decided to scrap ideas to revert to a caucus/convention system to select national convention delegates in the presidential nomination process. Instead, the party opted to focus on a primary. Since the Beehive state's presidential primary -- the Western States Presidential Primary election -- did not receive any appropriations in the FY2012 Utah budget, that left the state Republican Party no recourse but to hold the primary concurrent with state and local primaries in June.

The only problem is that there was/is no legal way of doing that  -- adding the presidential line to the ballot -- given current state election law. The Utah state legislature, in the midst of a special session, has done its part to remedy that situation, adding language to the law that would automatically trigger the later primary as an option should funds not be allocated to the first Tuesday in February presidential primary election. The section on the state funding requirement had been there prior to this, but not the trigger provision. Here is the new subsection added to the law (Section 20A.9.802, section 1.a.ii):
A political party may participate in a regular primary election for the office of President of the United States only if there is no Western States Presidential Primary election in that year.
The bill (SB 3004) has passed both the Senate and the House with just one dissenting vote across chambers and now awaits Governor Gary Herbert's (R) consideration. The state Republican Party has already obviously signaled its desire to use the June primary as a means of allocating its national convention delegates, and this bill was a necessary part of that plan, though in the end, a bit of a formality with a Republican-controlled state government.

FHQ will add a link to the legislation to our left sidebar Presidential Primary Bills Before State Legislatures section.

Hat tip to Evan Millett for passing this information on to FHQ.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Missouri Republicans Will Caucus on March 17

 [Click to Enlarge]

KY3 in Springfield has the story.

Here is the rundown of the newly defined delegate selection process the Missouri Republican Party will use in 2012:  

*The County Caucuses will take place on March 17, 2012.  At these caucuses, which are open to any Republican who is registered to vote in that county, attendees will select delegates and alternates to the Congressional District Conventions and State Convention.  No delegates to the national convention are selected at this time.  The number of delegates and alternates per county is determined by the Missouri Republican Party based upon the number of GOP votes cast in the last presidential election. 
* The Congressional District Conventions will take place on April 21, 2012.  At each of these 8 conventions, delegates chosen at the county level will select 3 delegates and alternates to the National Convention and 1 presidential elector.  The delegates and alternates will be required to declare allegiance to a candidate prior to the voting, and they will be bound to that candidate on the first ballot—unless they are released prior to the convention. 
*The State Convention will take place on June 2, 2012.  At the convention, delegates chosen at the county level will vote on 26 at-large delegates and alternates to the National Convention and 2 at large presidential electors.  The delegates and alternates will be required to declare allegiance to a candidate prior to the voting, and they will be bound to that candidate on the first ballot—unless they are released prior to the convention.In total, Missouri will have 52 delegates and 49 alternates to the Republican National Convention — 24 selected at the congressional district caucuses, 25 selected at the state convention, and 1 delegate (but no alternate) for the state Party chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman. 

The ball is definitely in Florida's court now.

We'll move the Missouri Democrats to "No Date" for the time being, but FHQ fully expects the party to utilize the municipal ward caucuses already scheduled to begin on March 29. Until that announcement, however, FHQ will keep them as undetermined.