Showing posts with label state party bylaws. Show all posts
Showing posts with label state party bylaws. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

From Where Will the 2024 Delegate Rules Changes Come?

A few weeks back FHQ pulled back the curtain on the baseline set of rules the Republican National Committee has to work from as the 2024 presidential nomination cycle continues to evolve. But with that hanging out there and a report on the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination process due by the end of the month, it is fair to ask from where future rules changes will emanate. 

Among the most basic layers here is to consider the parties that typically tinker with their rules as a new nomination process approaches. Despite all the rumblings about Democratic rules changes that may stem from the national party's upcoming autopsy, it tends to be parties out of the White House that maneuver within their rules as a means of attempting to recapture the presidency. Now, it is debatable just how effective that is, but out-parties routinely make rules changes that it hopes will streamline the process and/or produce a nominee well-positioned to take on an incumbent in the opposition party. Although they were not rules changes, per se, the 2013 Growth and Opportunity Project report the Republican Party produced made broad recommendations about the direction of the party but also included a section on rules changes aimed at shrinking the window in which primaries and caucuses could occur on the calendar among other things. Many of those rules recommendations were instituted by the Republican National Committee while the party went the other way in the lead up to and after the 2016 election on a number of the other recommendations. 

By that measure, then, 2024 starts somewhat off-kilter. Again, it is early, but the rumblings about delegate selection rules changes are on the in-party side of the equation. Discussions about replacing Iowa and/or New Hampshire at the front fo the 2024 presidential primary calendar or completely replacing caucuses with primaries abound among the broader Democratic Party coalition and within the commentariat. 

But much of that difference -- the in-party versus out-party dynamic -- early in the 2024 may largely be a function of the priorities of both parties. The wishlist for changes to the Democratic presidential nomination system is mostly a continuation -- an extension -- of the work completed ahead of the 2020 process. Through that lens, adding diversity to the beginning of the calendar or expanding participation by valuing primaries over caucuses is just finishing the work started in 2017-2018. 

Yet, that begs the question: what are the (out-party) Republicans up to? 

Thus far, it has been all quiet on the western front from the Grand Old Party. However, it should be repeated that the priorities there are different than for Democrats. Replacing Iowa and New Hampshire does not appear to be as important nor does the caucus to primary shift (despite some chatter in 2018 about an incentive structure to facilitate such a change). But what are the 2024 priorities for Republicans? If consensus can be built among decision makers in the national party about what type of nominee the party wants, then there may be some more extensive tinkering than there was during Trump's 2020 nomination defense. That consensus may not come or may not be easy to come by as candidates and their proxies in power within the Republican National Committee jockey for position during the 2024 invisible primary. 

And like the 2020 platform, the national rules on the Republican side may very well carry over as is (or with minor corrections to reflect the change in cycle) to the 2024 cycle. Of course, that does not mean that there will not be rules changes for 2024 for the Republican process. It just means that it may not be coming from the national party. Instead, it may be the states and state parties where those changes take shape under the guidance of the national party rules. Although it has waned during recent cycles, Republican state parties still have more latitude to craft their own delegate selection and allocation processes under national party rules than do their Democratic state party counterparts. There very simply are fewer mandates from the national level on Republican state parties. 

Even in that scenario, however, state parties are still limited in what they can do. State governments in primary states are responsible for altering the date of the contest, but state parties do have some discretion on how to allocate delegates to candidates based on the results of primaries and caucuses. And that could be where there is some movement on the Republican rules in 2023. Yet, if there is enough of a groundswell from the state parties up to the Republican National Committee to expand or revert those allocation rules to pre-2012 levels, then there could be some push to end the use of the proportionality window at the beginning of the calendar, requiring states to allocate delegates in a proportional manner during the first half of March. 

For now, however, all of this is speculative. The relative silence on the Republican side has made this all a mystery to this point in the cycle. The obvious "problem" areas once common across parties are not exactly problematic for Republicans. It could also be said that the perception of delegate selection rules problems is asymmetric across national parties. That may yet change as the cycle develops, but at this point bet on state-level changes over national-level rules changes until anything new bubbles up, something that also differs from how Democrats have handled things in their own rules change track up to now.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Kentucky Republicans Aiming for Early March, Proportional Caucuses

It still has to pass the Kentucky Republican State Central Committee, but the plan to switch the delegate selection process from a primary to caucuses for 2016 is taking shape in the Bluegrass state. Tom Loftus at the Louisville Courier-Journal has the latest on the special state party committee's efforts:
And planning for the caucus goes on. The head of the special committee, Scott Lasley, a political science professor and chairman of the Warren County Republican Party, said the plan will likely schedule the caucus for a Saturday or a Tuesday in early March.  
Lasley said delegates will be allocated proportional to the vote received by the candidate — it will not be winner take all.
Though the caucus switch is at least partially intended to help out home state candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, the cost of the switch -- $500,000 to $1.2 million from state party coffers -- and the logistics of the caucus voting make the outlook for the late August State Central Committee vote on the change less than 100%.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Utah Republicans Vote to Abandon Presidential Primary for Caucuses in 2016

Two and a half weeks ago, the Utah Republican Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution calling on the party to shift from utilizing the state-funded presidential primary to instead using a caucuses/convention system as a means of selecting and allocating delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention.1

However, resolutions tend to be non-binding and that was the case in this instance because such a switch from a primary to caucuses required a change to the Utah Republican Party Bylaws. Additionally that kind of a change can only be voted on and approved by the full Utah Republican Party State Central Committee (UTSCC). The UTSCC met on Saturday, March 7 and those changes to the bylaws concerning 2016 delegate selection were on the agenda.

There was not that much that was eye-opening about the changes.2 The initial addition appears to give the Utah Republican Party the latitude to make this trade -- in either direction -- in the future without having to alter the party bylaws:
Prior to any deadline required by the Republican National Committee Rules, the State Central Committee shall certify a presidential primary or a presidential caucus as the Republican Presidential Preference Vote. [Emphasis FHQ's]
Beyond that, all references to a presidential primary were struck and replaced by preference vote. The ambiguity of that phrase/concept enables the discretion intended in the clause discussed above. The mechanism for such a future change/decision was left undefined.

Also left undefined: The date of the precinct caucuses that will begin the caucuses/convention process.

The February 18 resolution describes a presidential preference vote taking place concurrently with the regularly occurring neighborhood caucuses that are the common start point for the caucuses/convention process in both parties in Utah. Those neighborhood caucuses tend to occur in the early spring, but there is no guidance in the Utah Republican Party constitution or bylaws as to when on the calendar those local meetings will fall.

But there are a couple of pieces of information that may provide some hints as to where this preference vote will be on the 2016 presidential primary calendar.

First, the last two Republican neighborhood caucuses -- in 2012 and 2014 -- were on the third Thursday in March. But again, that specific date is not called for in the Utah Republican Party bylaws nor constitution. The 2010 neighborhood meetings -- the ones that derailed former Senator Bob Bennett's (R-UT) reelection campaign -- were on the third Tuesday in March.

March, then, seems a likely destination. But March is a popular potential 2016 landing spot for any number of primaries and caucuses across the country. History may not be a great guide.

Secondly, when Utah comes up in these dates discussions, some talk of involvement in a western regional primary has often not been that far behind. That was true yesterday as well. Governor Gary Herbert (R-UT) brought the idea up at the UTSCC meeting:
"We ought to do everything we can to get those who are going to lead our nation to stop by Utah," Herbert said, including holding the election the same day as other Western states to ensure focus on issues important to the region.  
“We ought to work toward a regional primary” to have a stronger voice in the Intermountain West, he said.
If that idea is resonant with the Utah Republican Party, the options are somewhat limited at this point. Northern neighbor Idaho as well as Washington state are eyeing March 8 primaries. Utah's southern neighbor, Arizona, is scheduled to have a primary on March 22. That actually falls quite close to the third week in March during which the neighborhood caucuses have taken place in Utah in the recent past. March 22 is also the date identified in the now-moot legislation -- at least for Utah Republicans -- concerning a move of the Utah presidential primary. Most importantly, Utah is one of the handful of truly winner-take-all states on the Republican side. Under Republican National Committee rules, states with such a delegate allocation plan cannot be scheduled for a date any earlier than March 15. That seemingly eliminates March 8 as a possibility.

Utah Republicans have a bit of a decision then. Gamble on a March 22 date with some regional partners which may in turn yield increased attention, or abandon that idea based on the fact that it may be too late to matter and move up to March 15. The March 15 option would mean competing with bigger states like Florida with more delegates at stake. And that may be tougher even if Florida is not truly winner-take-all.

1 Below is the language of that resolution from February 18:

2 Below are the proposed changes to the Utah Republican Party bylaws concerning the primary to caucuses switch:

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kentucky Republicans Support Move to 2016 Presidential Caucuses

On Saturday, March 7 the Republican Party of Kentucky Executive Committee met and voted unanimously in favor of switching from a presidential primary to a caucuses/convention system in 2016.

The shift was requested by US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to accommodate his potential simultaneous runs for renomination to the Senate seat he now holds and for the Republican presidential nomination. Kentucky law prevents a candidate from appearing on a ballot more than once. Trading the May presidential primary for separate caucuses was the easiest path to circumventing that law, allowing the concurrent runs for both offices. Sen. Paul now avoids having to go through the courts to challenge the law or attempting to exploit more intricate possibilities.

The exact date of the caucuses is not known at this point. The Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee was voting on just the switch in delegate selection mode and not the rules that will govern the caucuses. That change will come later at the August meeting of the full Kentucky Republican Party Central Committee following a 13 member caucus-planning panel.

That said, the Republican Party of Kentucky holds precinct caucuses during the month of March in presidential election years as a part of the party's state convention process. See Rule 5.03:
5.03. Precinct Committee Elections: The Precinct shall be the basic organizational unit of the Republican Party of Kentucky.
(a) Timing of Elections: In the year in which the President of the United States shall be elected, all precincts shall hold elections for Party office not earlier than March 1 and not later than March 31. Each County Committee shall provide written notice to State Republican Headquarters on or before the second Friday in January of the date, time and location of such elections. Any County Committee that fails to submit said notice by the deadline established in this rule shall hold said elections on the third Saturday in March beginning at 10 AM local time at a location approved by the County Committee and submitted to the State Republican Headquarters on or before January 31. Failure to submit written notice as provided in this rule mandates that the Executive Committee of the RSCC implement a mechanism for Precinct Committee elections. [Emphasis FHQ's] 
Whether there will be a uniform date for precinct caucuses or if the rules will be altered to affect such a change remains to be seen. This does mark the first time since the 2000 presidential election cycle that Kentucky Republicans have opted for a caucuses/convention system in lieu of the May primary. Kentucky Democrats made a similar move in 1984.

UPDATE: More on the vote from the AP's Adam Beam.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Utah Republican Party Moving Closer to 2016 Caucuses

This flew under FHQ's radar in the recent flurry of legislative action on presidential primary laws across the nation.

The Utah Republican Party voted unanimously in an emergency meeting on Wednesday, February 18 in favor of a resolution to hold caucuses next year in the presidential nomination race in lieu of continuing with the state-funded primary. The move is yet more fallout from the continued flap over the nomination process for most offices in Utah that has pitted the Utah Republican Party against the state legislature/government.

FHQ has touched on this divide some already, but Robert Gehrke at the Salt Lake Tribune sums up the battle lines quite nicely here:
Under the SB54 compromise struck last session, candidates can go through a party's convention and try to win the nomination by gaining support from delegates chosen at neighborhood caucuses. Alternatively, they can gather a requisite number of signatures from eligible voters to secure a spot on the primary ballot.
It is that latter option that the Utah Republican Party has objected to and has ultimately dragged the party's 2016 delegate selection process for president into the fray. The Executive Committee of the party passed the resolution to make the switch from primary to caucuses at the February meeting, but the Utah Republican Party Central Committee has to actually make the changes to the state party bylaws bring the switch to fruition. The group is set to meet on Saturday, March 7 to address the matter.

The impending Saturday meeting has prompted reaction from Mitt Romney, the Republican standard bearer in the 2012 presidential election. In a letter to party and government officials, Romney made the case for a primary over a caucuses/convention system, urging the letter's audience to get behind legislation currently before the state legislature to move the primary election back into compliance with the national party delegate selection rules. Of course, regardless of how the state government moves on that March primary bill, the state party will have the final say in how its delegates to the national convention are chosen. Right now, it appears that the Utah Republican Party is moving toward caucuses, but the big guns have been brought out to urge the party to reconsider.

NOTE: Saturday may be an interesting day for the primary calendar. Utah Republicans will not be alone in looking to switch from a primary to caucuses. Kentucky Republicans will be considering a similar change at a meeting of their own on March 7.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bill Gardner Discusses New Hampshire/Nevada on Face to Face

Jon Ralston tonight on Face to Face took a call from New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to chat about the next looming conflict to determine the final 2012 presidential primary calendar.1 At issue, as FHQ has discussed, is the discrepancy between the longstanding New Hampshire election law that requires seven days between the primary in the Granite state and the immediately subsequent primary or caucus and a newly-enacted Nevada Republican Party resolution tethering the party's caucuses to the Saturday following the New Hampshire primary. Many have tried the same thing and many have failed. As Secretary Gardner stated in the interview, several states in the 1990s attempted unsuccessfully to schedule their contests for the same date as New Hampshire. Wyoming Republicans in 2007 had a similar resolution to Nevada's on the books before rewriting it and moving the state's county meetings to January 5. Delaware scheduled a Saturday after New Hampshire primary in 2000 but it was non-binding on the Democratic delegate selection process in the First state.

The point is, Bill Gardner has seen a great number of states challenge New Hampshire's first in the nation status, but none has succeeded. The man is undefeated in keeping New Hampshire first since he -- the only secretary of state in New Hampshire during the time -- was given the authority to set the date in 1976 (based on the 1975 law cited in the segment below). If only for that reason alone, it might be worth taking Gardner at his word that New Hampshire will get what it wants: a seven day buffer between it and any subsequent contest.

But why?

Part of it, as I have mentioned, is that there is a collective desire on the part of the early, exempt states to avoid pushing this into December. To cross that barrier means to put the privileged positions the early states enjoy even further under microscope when the next round of delegate selection rules is crafted starting during the conventions next year, but in earnest during 2014. None wants to be the one to push the calendar into December, but I take Gardner at his word that he will do that if that is the only way to preserve New Hampshire's status. I would contend that it is a bluff, but we have never and probably will never know because when these sorts of conflicts arise, New Hampshire is not the one to blink.

Again, why?

New Hampshire is good at what it does. No, not necessarily in terms of picking nominees or presidents, but in quickly and flawlessly staging early presidential primaries. There is likely not another state that can more quickly get the infrastructure in place to hold a presidential primary. That ability coupled with the flexibility of the date decision resting in the hands of just one actor has made New Hampshire an unparalleled force at the front of the presidential nomination process throughout the post-reform era and stretching back further still.

New Hampshire can play chicken, then, like no other. They can wait and wait and wait, all the time knowing that they can put a primary together quicker than their competition and run it more smoothly. That places a great deal of pressure on other states. Not only is the clock running down on them to decide, but they too have to get a presidential nomination contest planned, prepped and ready to go.

And in this particular instance, Gardner and New Hampshire have a trump card. They know full well that every second is going to count for the Nevada Republican Party based on the party's mismanaged caucus convention system four years ago. South Carolina was on the same date and even with the candidates' attention on the Palmetto state, Nevada had problems in its trial run as an early state contest. Those problems persisted throughout the process. Ron Paul, who finished second at the precinct level, had enough delegates make it through to completely disrupt the 2008 state convention. It was cancelled and the state party's central committee chose the delegates to attend the convention in St. Paul. And as of a month and a half ago, the planning was still underway for 2012.

Not wanting to repeat that and not knowing when the caucuses will ultimately be held will weigh heavily on the Nevada Republican Party between now and their October 22 central committee meeting. And Bill Gardner will still be talking about going in December then. That would give Nevada Republicans less than two months to prepare for their caucuses if they are to go on the Saturday following New Hampshire. That won't be ideal for them.

...and Bill Gardner knows it.

1 Below is the Face to Face show from October 3. The segment in which Bill Gardner appears is right after the opening and some other news.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Follow Up on the Oregon Primary Bill

FHQ was fortunate enough yesterday and today to have exchanged emails with Tyler Smith, the attorney who spoke on behalf of the Oregon Republican Party at the public hearing on HB 2429 on March 9. As we have discussed here during this week, that bill proposes moving the Oregon primaries -- including the presidential primary -- from the third Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in June. No, that shift is not on the surface all that consequential, moving the Beaver state's primary from late in the presidential nomination process to latest in the presidential nomination process.

However, as is often the case, local factors can play a significant role in shaping a state party's reaction to any elections legislation and that is the situation here. FHQ's statements regarding the points raised in the hearing on HB 2429 were extensions of an Oregon-based blog that left some doubt as to the true nature of both the Republican and Democratic stances on the bill in question. First of all, as Mr. Smith pointed out to me, he was the only one who made any statement at the hearing. The Democratic Party of Oregon has yet to weigh in and the only representative of the party to speak on the matter was House Leader Dave Hunt who co-chairs the committee from which the legislation originated. And that was not necessarily the official position of the state party.

As for the Oregon Republican Party response, it makes more sense given the proper context. Mr. Smith explained that Oregon Republican Party bylaws require the party to have completed the delegate selection process -- a process that is complicated by the fact that the party allocates delegates proportionally --by July 1 (Article XVII, Section A). However, if in 2012, the Oregon presidential primary is on June 12, the results would not be certified until thirty days later, or July 11. As the allocation is proportional, that certification is necessary in order complete the allocation properly. But beyond that, it is less than proper to have allocated delegates ten days after the deadline to have done so. The primary move proposed in HB 2429, then, is a very real problem for the Oregon Republican Party.

Well, why not just change the deadline? Why indeed. Again, let us look to the Oregon Republican Party's bylaws. Changes can only be made at the Biennial Organizational Meeting (Article XXVI, Section A) which occurs between January 1 and February 28 of odd numbered years (Article IV, Section A), a point that has already passed in this presidential election cycle. The party also has the option of make amendments to the bylaws -- presumably including the aforementioned July 1 deadline -- at "duly convened" meeting of the Oregon Republican Party State Central Committee (Article XXVI, Section A). There is time in which to make that change, but it is unclear if the State Central Committee is willing or able to get together to get that done should the bill passed the Oregon legislature and be signed into law.

This really is a fabulous example of the overlap of state party and national party rules with state law. And that in a nutshell is why fundamentally altering the presidential nomination process is so difficult.