Showing posts with label state central committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label state central committee. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Virginia Republicans Will Hold 2020 Presidential Preference Vote at State Convention

Much ink has been spilled of late about the number of Republican state parties considering or deciding to forgo primaries or caucuses during the 2020 presidential nomination cycle. There was a rash of these decisions during the first weekend of September when Republican parties in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina opted out of their respective delegate selection events for next year.

But those states are not alone, nor were they the first to opt for a more closed system of selecting and allocating delegates to the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte.

In fact, during their late June state central committee meeting, Virginia Republicans entertained a motion to hold a presidential preference vote at the party's state convention and the Republican Senate nomination vote in a (June) primary. That motion was split into two questions and dealt with separately. While the state central committee voted in a narrow 40-35 roll call vote to conduct a Senate primary in June 2020, the party opted via an uncontroversial voice vote to skip the presidential primary in favor of a presidential preference vote at the party's state convention next year.

Like many of the states above, Virginia Republicans also have a history of selecting and allocating delegates through means other than a primary. Actually Virginia's use of a primary is more of a 21st century phenomenon. Other than 1988, both parties conducted delegate selection through caucus/convention systems or held firehouse primaries (Democratic state party-run contests) through the early years of the post-reform era. That included 1992, the only time in that late 20th century window when a Republican incumbent (George H.W. Bush) was up for renomination.

This was also the case in 2004 when George W. Bush was again seeking the Republican nomination. Virginia Republicans skipped the primary then as well.

Now, history will repeat itself in 2020 as Virginia Republicans will handle the preference vote, national convention delegate selection and delegate allocation at the state convention. Like in the other states, this is likely to benefit President Trump in his effort win, if not all of the delegates from Virginia, then certainly the lion share of them.

While this often gets described as maneuvering to insulate the president from a challenge, it has a history in a number of states -- particularly on the Republican side -- over time. Virginia is yet another data point for that in the 2020 cycle.

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Saturday, August 3, 2019

Nevada Republicans to Consider Resolution to Skip 2020 Caucuses for Allocating Delegates

At the upcoming September 7 meeting of the Nevada Republican Party state central committee, the party will consider a series of resolutions to forgo a presidential preference vote at precinct caucuses next February. In their place would be what the NRP is calling an Alternative Presidential Preference Poll, a vote not of rank and file Nevada Republicans statewide, but of the membership of the Nevada Republican Party state central committee.

Here is how it would work:
1) The Executive Committee, the smaller subset of the central committee, would determine "that a statewide presidential poll is unnecessary to determine the will of the majority of registered Nevada Republican voters," opting instead for the aforementioned Alternative Poll of the full central committee.  
2) This maneuver can only be used in cycles in which there is an incumbent Republican president.  
3) That incumbent president would automatically be placed in nomination as a candidate in the Alternative Poll.  
4) Other candidates can additionally file a nomination form with the party to be placed in nomination in the Alternative Poll as well. Those challenging candidates must include on that form the signatures of 20 members of the central committee.  
5) The members of the central committee then vote for that candidate (/those candidates) under rules established by the Executive Committee. 
While other candidates technically have access to the process, functionally someone like Bill Weld or Mark Sanford (or whomever) faces a steep climb in convincing 20 central committee members to give them that chance. That, in turn, means that President Trump is not only very likely to be the only candidate involved in that Alternative Poll, but also stands to have all of the Nevada delegation bound to him at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte.

Now, this may raise a few rules-related questions for some.
1) Can Nevada Republicans actually strip out the presidential preference vote from their precinct caucuses and still remain compliant under Republican National Committee rules.
Yes. In fact, Kansas Republicans are considering a similar shift in their delegate selection process. Under Rule 16(d)(1) of the 2016 Rules of the Republican Party -- the rules adopted by the 2016 convention to guide the 2020 process -- state parties have the discretion to select, elect and/or allocate delegates via state central committee action. 
2) But this sounds like a move by the party to allocate all of its delegates to the president, and winner-take-all allocation is prohibited before March 15, right?
This one involves a bit of a convoluted response. First of all, other than South Carolina, whose plan includes a winner-take-all by congressional district (winner-take-most) allocation scheme, no party with a contest prior to March 15 can allocate delegates in a winner-take-all fashion without also included some sort of qualifying threshold and/or winner-take-all threshold. The former can be set as high as 20 percent and the latter as low as 50 percent. There is nothing in any of these resolutions to alter the proportional manner in which Nevada Republicans allocate delegates. In fact, that proportional method is cited in the Alternative Poll's establishing resolution. 
But if Trump is the only candidate considered in the Alternative Poll, then he is the only candidate who can win a proportional share of the Nevada delegates.1 That would make for a winner-take-all allocation. That is true, but highlights the importance of 1) the Executive Committee's estimation that the statewide preference vote at the precinct caucuses is not necessary, and 2) the fact that other candidates technically have access to the Alternative Poll and thus a proportional share of any delegates for which such a candidate would qualify. The result is that while the end result is likely a winner-take-all allocation, there are ways for others to win delegates. The bar may be set high, but there is a bar. 
And according to the Associated Press:
The Nevada Republican Party’s proposes [sic] rule change “isn’t about any kind of conspiracy theory about protecting the president,” said Nevada GOP spokesman Keith Schipper. 
“He’s going to be the nominee,” Schipper said. “This is about protecting resources to make sure that the president wins in Nevada and that Republicans up and down the ballot win in 2020.”
This is akin to the resources arguments Kansas Republicans have made about skipping their caucuses as well, but in the Nevada Republican case, the precinct caucuses would still occur on February 25. There just would not be a preference vote to bind delegates to the candidates. Instead, the caucuses/convention process would be utilized as the means through which delegates would be selected. The delegation may have already been allocated to Trump by then, even as early as the September 7 Nevada Republican state central committee meeting.

As a postscript, it is noteworthy how differently the Republican parties in each of the four carve-out states have approached 2020. Iowa Republicans have remained steadfast that they will have a preference vote tethered to the February caucuses in the Hawkeye state. Republicans in New Hampshire considered but opted against bringing a resolution ending a party neutrality rule and endorsing as a party the president for renomination ahead of the primary in the Granite state. Meanwhile, South Carolina Republicans have also considered scaling down their operations for 2020, potentially shifting from a primary to a caucus. None of this state party maneuvering is confined to just the carve-out states, but they are the most consequential at the beginning of the process. Other state Republican parties across the country will finalize decisions on their 2020 delegate selection processes as the October 1 RNC deadline to finalize plans approaches. It will not just be Nevada Republicans who are active on this front in September.

1 And although it is not spelled out in the resolution, it is assumed that delegates could only be allocated as uncommitted if 20 members of the central committee filed that paperwork with the party secretary that other candidates would have to file.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Colorado Republican Precinct Caucuses Shifted Up to February 7

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The Colorado Republican Party State Central Committee voted at their fall meeting on Saturday, September 24 to move the precinct caucuses up four weeks -- as parties are allowed to do according to state law passed prior to the 2008 cycle -- to February 7.1 Date-wise, the move is seemingly out of compliance with Republican National Committee rules on delegate selection. However, as there are no delegates directly allocated to the national convention in Tampa at that level of the caucus/convention process, the new position is rules-compliant.

As FHQ has mentioned previously, this is not new. Iowa and Nevada both skirted Republican National Committee rules in 2008 under similar circumstances. Nevada Republicans have since altered their rules as a means of attracting candidate attention, and while neither Iowa nor Nevada were proactively attempting to defy national party rules in 2008,2 both ended up bringing attention to a loophole in the Republican delegate selection rules that is now being exploited by at least three caucus states -- Colorado, Maine and Minnesota.

The Colorado Republican caucuses now bring to four the number of contests currently scheduled for Tuesday, February 7,3 a date the media continue to point out is just a day after the Iowa caucuses. That is true, but most outlets are not following that up by pointing out that the date in Iowa is contingent upon the dates in New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. Those states will decide if Colorado, Maine and Minnesota are true threats to their positions on the calendar and whether Iowa will, in fact, end up on February 6 as laid out in the Democratic National Committee rules for delegate selection.4 It is and has been a safe bet for a while now that Iowa will not be holding caucuses on February 6. There is a slim, outside chance of that, but only probably equal to or slightly greater than the probability that the first four states kick off primary season in December. In other words, neither are happening. In fact, the major campaigns are and have been behaving as if the calendar will begin at some point in January. The only remaining question is when. That is something that will continue to be defined over the course of the next few weeks.

No, don't look for everything to fall in place on or before October 1 -- the deadline by which the RNC requires delegate selection plans to be in place. Things will get clearer with the Florida decision later this week, but the calendar will not be finalized then. There is no penalty for deciding beyond that date.

1 The following are the resolutions voted on and passed by the Colorado Republican Party State Central Committee on Saturday and passed on to FHQ by Colorado Republican Party Chair Ryan Call:
Precinct Caucus Date Resolution Draft.revised

Embedded in the resolutions are the primary -- public -- motivations behind the move: more attention, a full slate of active Republican candidates, energizing the Republican base, more preparation time for local party/elections officials. At the end of the day, February 7 was a legal move for the party to make with respect to Colorado state law, and it was a less-crowded date than March 6. That, along with the fact that there were no national party penalties associated with the move, made for a recipe for a February 7 date for precinct caucuses.

2 Both were merely following traditional practices on the state level in terms of how and at what point in the caucus/convention process both were allocating delegates. For instance, even if there had been penalties levied against caucus states, Iowa and Nevada Republicans still would have moved up. Iowa Republicans would have to maintain their first-in-the-nation status and Nevada Republicans would have to match the move made by Nevada Democrats who won the ability to hold an exempt contest from the DNC. It isn't clear that Colorado Republicans would have opted to move to February 7 if it would have meant taking a 50% delegate hit. In fact, it is probably safe to assume that they would not have.

3 The legislature has passed legislation to move the New Jersey presidential primary to June, but that bill has not been signed to this point by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In Missouri, special session legislation to move the primary there to March is still mired in an inter-chamber squabble that could extend into November.

4 To reiterate a point made here several times, but one that is not made clear in most accounts of the situation, the RNC rules do not specify dates for the contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The rules only guideline on timing is that those contests occur at some point in February (but not before). Ideally, they would match up with the Democratic contests in those states, but it isn't a requirement. Only New Hampshire is guaranteed to have Democratic and Republican primaries on the same date. Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina have more state party influence over the date and do not have the uniformity called for in New Hampshire law (as it is in most primary states).

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Colorado Republicans Set to Vote on Moving Precinct Caucuses to February

The Colorado Republican Party State Central Committee is scheduled to meet this coming Saturday, September 24. According to a report from Caitlin Gibbons at the Denver Post, among the items to be considered is a plan to move the party's precinct caucuses from the first Tuesday in March (Super Tuesday, March 6) to the first Tuesday in February (February 7). This is a move that is allowed by state law and is -- despite the date -- compliant with the RNC rules concerning presidential delegate allocation.

As has been the case with similar non-binding caucuses that have been scheduled in February thus far (Maine and Minnesota), Colorado would avoid the threat of sanction from the Republican National Committee based on the fact that no delegates to the national convention are being directly allocated based on the first step (precinct level) of the caucus process. This was the same rule that in 2008 allowed Iowa and Nevada to circumvent sanction while the other pre-February 5 states -- including New Hampshire and South Carolina -- lost half of their delegates.1 In other words, there is something of a loophole to Republican delegate selection rules that is motivating at least some caucus states like Colorado to move up  in an attempt to influence the nomination process.

As FHQ has stated, however, the question as to whether these non-binding contests will have an impact on the finalization of the 2012 presidential primary calendar, much less the race for the nomination itself, remains an open one. With Minnesota Republicans already scheduled on February 7 and Missouri poised to officially join that date tomorrow should the legislature in the Show Me state not reconcile differences in a March presidential primary bill currently stalled there, one can at least partially provide an affirmative answer to that question.

A few thoughts:
1) Despite saying earlier that a move to February was not likely -- though technically possible given Colorado state election law -- Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call and the state central committee appear to see a penalty-free, non-binding February caucus as too irresistible. And with Maine and Minnesota operating under a similar rationale, why not roll the dice? Colorado has what neither of those states nor Missouri has: swing state status in the general election. [Sorry Missouri. The one silver lining in the Show Me state is that a primary allows for the possibility of energizing a larger set of voters than the caucuses are likely to have. But let's see what happens in Jefferson City on Friday before going down that road.]

2) Strategically, February 7 -- aside from being penalty-free -- is probably more attractive than March 6 for Colorado Republicans based on the numbers alone. It is better to share a date with Minnesota and maybe Missouri than it is to share the spotlight with nearly ten other contests -- mostly primaries -- on March 6. Why pass that up?

3) Additionally, Iowa is often accused of having two bites at the apple with the Ames Straw Poll and the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Would Colorado and other non-binding caucus states have that same privilege? They could. The delegates chosen at the precinct level are not bound by the results of the first step of the process. [Truth be told, though, it is probably a touch naive to think that these are all open-minded delegates moving on to the county level without some holding some allegiance to one candidate or another.] Technically speaking, then, the candidates would potentially be interested in returning to the state during the point at which delegates are actually being allocated to attempt to lobby delegates for their support.

4) Speaking of Missouri, let's say that nothing is done about the March primary legislation tomorrow and the special session ends. Missouri would be locked into February 7. But why wouldn't Republicans there -- and there are at least two Republican state senators that support this -- opt out of the primary and hold an early, non-binding caucus on February 7? Well, the party would likely lose a great number of participants in the switch, but Republicans in Missouri could also circumvent the RNC rules that way and not lose half of their delegates. Again, FHQ will hit the pause button on this one until Friday afternoon.

5) FHQ has said it before and has received some push back, but Romney won caucuses in ColoradoMaine and Minnesota in 2008. Sure, he positioned himself differently in 2008 than in 2012. Yes, the Tea Party has impacted caucus states in the time since then. But as we have seen with debate performances from the former Massachusetts governor, there is something to be said for having done this before. Romney has been able to put together a winning slate of delegates in these states before. That doesn't mean the other candidates cannot, but it does mean that Romney -- even if all the 2008 caucus-going supporters don't come back -- has something of an organizational infrastructure advantage over his counterparts. Quietly, Romney was to caucuses in 2008 what Obama was on the Democratic side. His efforts just got lost among a sea of losses elsewhere on Super Tuesday.

1 Incidentally, one aspect of all of this that is not being talked about at the moment is that if Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are forced into January, all but Iowa would face the 50% delegation penalty that  all other pre-March 6 states will face. That includes Nevada in 2012 because as a means of attracting candidate/media attention, Nevada Republicans elected to make the precinct caucus results proportional and determinative in terms of the delegate allocation.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kansas GOP Chooses March 10 for Presidential Caucuses

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Lost amid the hustle and bustle of the Ames Straw Poll and even the Michigan Republican Party State Committee meeting on August 13, was the meeting of the Kansas Republican Party State Committee. At that meeting the party set the date -- as well as discussing other issues -- for Sunflower state Republicans' presidential nominating caucuses for 2012. Repeating their caucus schedule of 2008, Kansas Republicans will gather on the Saturday after Super Tuesday -- in this case on March 101-- to begin the process of selecting delegates to attend to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The date corresponds with no other contests at the present time. Maine Democrats meet the following day, but will not attract attention away from Kansas Republicans. Caucus dates remain unsettled for the Republican Parties in Alaska, Maine, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming (...for the time being and/or to the best of FHQ's knowledge).

A tip of the cap to both Bob Beatty and Martin Hawver for the information.

The party convention also approved today its rules for conducting the Republican presidential preference caucus next year, which the party will use as part of its process of selecting delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa FL next August. The Republican presidential preference caucus will be March 10 and—of course—photo I.D. will be required of those voting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Michigan Republicans Eye Late February/Early March Primary

This is technically old news -- from last week -- but I wanted to make note of it on FHQ and tie a couple of things together before making a broader point on the calendar.

For starters, the Michigan Republican State Central Committee's Policy Committee met last week and formalized a set of resolutions regarding the allocation of presidential delegates to bring up for a vote at next month's State Central Committee meeting. Michigan's Republican National Committeeman, Saul Anuzis, though, gives the better, inside picture of what is truly on the table. Unlike what was widely reported, Michigan Republicans are looking not just at February 28 and March 6 as possible landing spots for the Wolverine state presidential primary, but instead are using that as a range. In other words, like Florida, a non-Tuesday primary is a possibility.

What's more, Michigan Republicans may opt to defy the RNC delegate selection rules and take the 50% delegate deduction, but the Policy Committee recommendations are letter perfect in following the new proportionality requirements. As Anuzis puts it:
The Committee also recommended using the 2008 Apportionment method to allocate delegates. That is winner take all by congressional district and proportional for the at-large delegates based on the overall statewide vote. A candidate would have to get a minimum of 15% to qualify for any delegates.
Those congressional district delegates comprise the majority of delegates in any state's total and those can still be allocated in a winner-take-all fashion in 2012 -- even ahead of the April 1 winner-take-all cutoff. Well, to be clear, that cutoff is being reported as the point after which states can begin allocating delegates on a winner-take-all basis. In reality and in practice, that April 1 date merely separates states that can use winner-take-all allocation for all delegates (post-April 1 states) and those states that can only use that method for the congressional district delegates. Anyway, the Michigan plan is compliant with the RNC rules and could even move the threshold for receiving delegates from 15% of the primary vote to 20% (the maximum) if they so chose. [There is no indication that they will.]

What does all of this mean for the calendar?

Well, we are potentially looking a domino effect with this group of "rogue" states. FHQ has said this all along, but what happens in Michigan affects what happens in Florida affects what happens in Iowa/New Hampshire/Nevada/South Carolina. If Michigan carves out a space in between February 28 and March 6 that is very likely to impact Florida's decision-making in terms of a March 1, 2 or 3 primary. Florida Republicans have consistently voiced a desire for the fifth position on the primary calendar, and Michigan, not to mention Arizona on February 28, compromise Florida's ability to find a defiant, but not-too-defiant primary date.

Regardless, Michigan Republicans can only do so much at their State Central Committee meeting next month. The rest will depend on the Republican-controlled state government -- like actually moving the date from where it is scheduled currently: February 28. Should the legislature not act -- and recall there is legislation to move the primary to January -- Michigan would hold its primary on February 28.