Saturday, April 28, 2007

Florida Moves Closer to Jan. 29

On Friday the Florida Senate passed HB 537 which plans to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 29. This moves Florida into position with Georgia and Tennessee as states where frontloading proposals have passed the legislature and are awaiting the signature of the governor. The plan would also move the primary to the same date on which the Democratic primary in South Carolina is scheduled to occur; one week after New Hampshire and one week before the twenty plus state primary day on February 5.

Florida now becomes the biggest state so far to test the windows both parties have set as the time during which primaries can be held. February 5 is the earliest date that non-exempt states can hold primaries. For 2008, New Hampshire and Iowa are obviously exempt in both parties and Nevada and South Carolina are on the Democratic side. Violating the window rules set forth by the parties carries sanctions whereby delegations from offending states would be penalized some or all of their delegates. As I've mentioned several times, several state legislators and state party actors from other states have expressed a feeling that the parties will suspend these rules if violations are widespread. Since the Florida plan anchors the state's primary to the date one week after the New Hampshire primary (whenever it is), it is apparent that the state legislators there value having an influence during the primary process as opposed to the convention phase.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Kansas to Feb. 2?

The Kansas House yesterday passed a substitute to a Senate appropriations bill (SB 357) that would not only institute a presidential primary for the 2008 cycle but would move it to February 2. That would put the primary on the Saturday after the South Carolina Democratic primary and the proposed Florida primary but before the de facto national primary on February 5. The bill was recommended for passage (as is) by the House and now will go back to the Senate for approval. The bill was not on the Senate's calendar for April 27, so it will more than likely be considered there some time next week.

The amendment added by Rep. Tom Sawyer would appropriate $1.6 for the primary and require the secretary of state to certify to the governor and other legislative leaders on or before November 1 of this year that the primary is to be held on February 2, 2008.

Of course, this proposal would subject the state to the same national party sanctions Florida's proposed move faces. Namely, the threat not to count delegates awarded through the primary. As I've mentioned several times though, most states considering such moves are operating under the assumption that the parties will suspend those rules if they are widely violated.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Where are they now?

Before I continue with part two of my look at actions within the states to alter the delegate selection calendar for the 2008 presidential nomination cycle, I want update where bills are in the legislative process in the states where plans to move are still under consideration.

NOTE: Please consult my original post or follow the links for the particulars of each bill. The descriptions that follow will be simple updates of progress within the legislative process.

SB 1184: As of April 16 the bill had made it out of the Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee and was on the calendar for consideration in the Senate.
The plan? Move to February 5.

HB 537 is still in the Senate as of March 22 after having passed the House on the previous day.
The plan? Move the state's 2008 presidential primary to the week directly following the New Hampshire primary (whenever that is; currently on January 22, 2008).

HB 487 was passed by the Georgia House on March 20 and has since been read and referred to the Senate Ethics Committee. As of April 17, that bill had been favorably reported out of the Ethics Committee and had been read for a second time by the Senate. The bill passed the Senate on April 20, but without the section covering the lowering of percentage thresholds that trigger runoffs. That version was then sent back to the House where it was not passed. The House then added the provision calling for the move of the presidential primary on a broad election bill (SB 194) from the Senate. The House then sent that bill back to the Senate which the members subsequently agreed to. Sadly, the above link does not include the language for the primary move, but here and here are links to sources discussing the amendment to the Senate bill. Apparently, Governor Sonny Perdue's signature is the only thing now separating this move from reality.
The plan? Move to February 5.

HB 0426: The House passed the plan on March 28 and the bill was referred to the Senate Rules Committee the following day. On April 18 the bill emerged from Rules and was assigned to the Senate Executive Committee for consideration.
The plan? Move to February 5.

With the Kansas Legislature set to reconvene for a "wrap-up" session on April 25, there is a chance, albeit slim, that action could be taken on the bills to set or move the date of the state's presidential primary. Neither of the bills (S 310 and S 320) are on the agenda for either chamber however. See here to search both bills' histories.
The plans? Permanently set the primary date for the first Tuesday in April (S 310) OR
leave the decision up to the secretary of state given that the legislature provides appropriations for the primary (S 320).

HB 1434 and SB 1025 have both passed their respective chambers and have each passed third readings in the opposite chamber as of April 2. The House also offered and adopted amendments to the Senate bill on April 6. The legislature has adjourned (on April 9) for the session though. However, the members can still present bills to the governor twenty days after the end of the session and have May 9 as the last day on which an extended session could be held according to the 2007 Session - Dates of Interest Calendar. Neither bill has had much resistance, so it can hardly be considered a stretch to assume that one of them will make it to the desk of the governor.
The plan?
Move to February 12 to coincide with Virginia.

HB 797: The third reading of this bill was passed and transmitted to the Senate on March 29 where it was referred to the State Administration Committee on April 2. A committee hearing was then held on April 11 where the bill was tabled for consideration on the Senate floor.
The plan? Allow the secretary of state to decide on a February or March date.

North Carolina:
S 168: This bill is the same as a bill introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly during the 2006 session. And since this year's version has been locked up in the Senate Judiciary Committee since mid-February, it may suffer the same fate as its precursor.
The plan? Move to February 5.

HB 2084 (Search for bill history here.): Since passing the House Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee on March 28, the Oregon House has since been referred the measure to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration (as of April 3).
The plan? Allow the secretary of state to decide (presumably February 5).

As was the case in North Carolina, no actions have been taken on any of the three plans to alter the date on which the 2008 presidential primary will be held in Pennsylvania.
The plans? 1) Move to the first Tuesday in March for 2008 (HB 63)
2) Move to the first Tuesday in March for 2008 and 2012 (SB 516)
3) Permanently move to the second Tuesday in February (HB 289)

Rhode Island:
H 5636 and S 740 (Search for both here.): Both bills call for the same thing but are at different points within the legislative process. The House bill has been in the Judiciary Committee since being referred there on February 28. The Senate bill, on the other hand, has been recommended for passage by the Senate Judiciary Committee (April 10) and placed on the Senate calendar (April 12).
The plans?
Move to February 5.

HB 2211 and SB 2012 (Search for both here and click on the "Legislation" tab on the left.): The former was substituted for the latter in the Senate on April 16 and subsequently passed by a unanimous vote. On April 19 the bill was signed by the speaker of the House and transmitted to the governor for his consideration.
The plan? Move to February 5.

HB 2017 and SB 1843: Both of these bills are identical, but the House bill is the real mover and shaker. That measure passed the House on April 13 and was received by the Senate on April 16. On April 19 it was read for the first time in the Senate and referred to the State Affairs Committee for consideration.
The plan? Move to February 5.

So Georgia and Tennessee are now the closest of this bunch to joining the bunch already on February 5.

Monday, April 9, 2007

New York Officially Joins the March to February 5

New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, signed into law today a bill to move the state's 2008 presidential primary. The bill (A.6430/S3544) moves the primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Not only does it move one of the most delegate-rich states further toward that front of the pack, but it is seen as a boost to two of the leading candidates from each party. New York's junior senator and Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, and current Republican front-runner and former New York city mayor, Rudy Giuliani would both stand to gain from this move. As the contest nears however, that view may change. Strategically, both candidates' opponents could opt to skip New York ceding many of the delegates to the favorite son/daughter and focus resources elsewhere. With the cluster forming on February 5, there will be no lack of alternatives to New York for the likes of Edwards, Obama, McCain or Romney.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Bills that Changed (or Will Potentially Change) the Primary Calendar

Since the focus on the 2008 presidential election has shifted to candidate fund-raising lately and because legislation about moving presidential primaries is going through state legislatures, things are at a bit of a standstill. With that said, I thought I would take a step back and archive all the moves states have made or are making. I'll break this into several parts depending upon the actors behind the moves in each state. For the most part, state legislatures make the decisions to move primaries, but state parties, governors and/or secretaries of state can have a say as well. In this post I'll look at the actions of state legislatures to move these primaries and in subsequent post(s), I'll examine the actions taken by (mostly) state parties to move presidential primaries or caucuses.

States that have moved:

HB 51 passed both houses of the Alabama legislature during the 2006 session, changing the date of the state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in June to the now-crowded date of February 5. After being a state at the head of the frontloading movement for all three presidential elections cycles during the 1980's, Alabama reverted to its pre-1980 position in June for the 1992 cycle and has been there ever since. This original proposal for HB 51 had the primary moving to the Saturday after the New Hampshire primary (February 2), but that portion of the bill was edited to read February 5. With more states pushing to the front of the line recently though, talk about that Saturday before February 5 has been revived.

The Arkansas legislature was the first to act after February 5 became the opening date of the window in which both parties require presidential primaries to occur. SB 235 made it through the legislature during its 2005 session and was signed into law by Governor Mike Huckabee in March of that year.

California is the big delegate prize for both parties during a presidential nomination, and when the state changes the date on which its primary is held, it is news. The date of the 2008 primary has changed twice since the last cycle though. One move made more news than the other. Primaries have been held on the first Tuesday in March since the 2000 cycle in California, but a 2004 law (SB 1730) switched the state's primary back to its traditional, pre-1996 position (the Tuesday after the first Monday in June). This was news simply because the biggest state was breaking with the trend of increased frontloading. As more and more states moved or considered moving to February 5 though, the California legislature decided not to sit idly by. On January 22, 2007, SB 113 was introduced, changing the presidential primary date from June to February 5. The bill was signed into law in late March, fundamentally altering the outlook of the 2008 nomination contests in both parties.

During the 2006 legislative session, the Louisiana State Legislature passed HB 1307 which was later signed in to law (Act 845) by Governor Kathleen Blanco. The act changes the date for the state's quadrennial presidential preference primary from the second Tuesday in March to the second Saturday in February. For the 2008 cycle that puts Louisiana's primary just four days after the February 5 super primary. As I mentioned in a post last week though, some legislators are considering moving to an even earlier date because of all the clustering on the Tuesday preceding the state's primary.

New Jersey:
If Louisiana does move again, it will join New Jersey and California as a state that has moved its presidential primary twice since the 2004 cycle. In July 2005, New Jersey moved its 2008 presidential primary from the Tuesday after the first Monday in June to the last Tuesday in February (A30/S550).* However, once momentum built behind the idea of February 5 as a de facto national primary day, New Jersey jumped on the bandwagon and acted (A4010/S2193). That bill was signed into law earlier this week as described here.

*Bill histories for these bills can be found by doing simple bill searches on the front page of the New Jersey legislature's website here.

New York:
A.6430/S.3544 (thanks to for this link via the New York Legislative Retrieval System) were passed by the New York Assembly and Senate respectively on March 21, 2007. The plan calls for moving the presidential primary in New York from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. As described in an earlier post, the bill now awaits the signature of New York governor, Eliot Spitzer. UPDATE: Governor Spitzer signed into law the above law on April 9, 2007.

States with plans to move being considered in the legislature:

In Connecticut, a plan to move the state's presidential primary to February 5 (or the first Tuesday in February) for 2008 and all subsequent cycles was introduced to the Senate in the for of SB 1184. As of April 16, the bill had made it out of committee on the Senate side and was added to the chamber's calendar for consideration on the floor.

The Florida House recently passed HB 537, which calls for Florida's 2008 presidential primary date to be moved from the second Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February or the Tuesday after the New Hampshire primary; whichever date comes first. This sliding scale is in place unless the earliest date falls on a day earlier than the second Tuesday in January.

HB 487 passed the Georgia House of Representatives on March 20, 2007 (see previous post). The plan calls for moving the 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to February 5 and then to fall on the first Tuesday in February in subsequent cycles. As of march 27 the bill had been read and referred to committee in the Senate.

HB 0426 was passed by the Illinois House on March 28, 2007 and has been read and referred to committee in the Senate. The bill changes the state's 2008 primary from the third Tuesday in March (a date that has been used since the 1970 off-year primaries) to the first Tuesday in February.

Kansas is attempting to have in 2008 its first presidential primary since 1992. Current law allows the secretary of state to set the primary on a date on or before the first Tuesday in April in which at least five other states are holding delegate selection events. In the past that has typically meant that the state of Kansas has fallen back on the default first Tuesday in April date. Currently, there are two proposals at various stages of the process. SB 310 eliminates the the portions of the code referring to the secretary of state and simply calls for the permanent institution of a presidential primary on the first Tuesday in April. This plan, however, has been bottled up in the Senate Elections and Local Government Committee since hearings on February 14, 2007. The plan that has more support behind it is SB 320, which retains the secretary of state provisions in the current code and reduces to three the number of states that must hold delegate selection events on the same date. SB 320 unanimously passed the Senate and was introduced and referred to the Appropriations Committee in the House in late February of this year. The two dates cited most by state legislators in this scenario are January 29 and February 5 with the latter being the most likely. As of April 6, 2007, the Kansas legislature had failed to act any further, with both chambers generally supporting the idea but not the financial obligation attendant to a presidential primary. Advocates of the presidential primary plan on renewing their effort to include funding in the budget when the legislature reconvenes for its "wrap-up" session at the end of April.

HB 1434 and SB 1025 have passed their respective chambers in the Maryland General Assembly and have been referred to the opposite chamber and introduced to committees there. According to the bills' histories (here and here), the plan to move the state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the second Tuesday in February has wide support in both chambers. The bill was re-referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and was due for a hearing there on April 5.

HB 797 allows for the secretary of state to set the date for the presidential preference primary in February or March of 2008. This bill was passed by the Montana House and transmitted to the Senate on March 29, 2007. Currently the bill is being considered in its second committee on the House side and first committee in the Senate.

North Carolina:
North Carolina's Senate is considering a bill (S 168) that would permanently move the state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May to the first Tuesday in February. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2007 and is still being considered there. At this time there no similar bill has been introduced in the House.

HB 2084, like the bill in Montana, leaves the decision as to the date on which the presidential primary is held up to the Oregon secretary of state. As of March 28, 2007 the plan had passed the House Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee. Here is the bill's history to this point.

Pennsylvania has several bills circulating both chambers of the General Assembly there. SB 516 has been referred (on March 19, 2007) to the Senate State Government Committee and sets as the dates for the presidential primaries in 2008 and 2012, March 4 and March 6 respectively. HB 289 permanently moves the state's presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the second Tuesday in February (the 12th in 2008). This bill was sent to the House State Government Committee on February 7, 2007. Like SB 516, HB 63 shifts the date called for in the existing state code concerning primary elections to March 4, 2008. On January 30, 2007 HB 63 was referred to the House State Government Committee.

Rhode Island:
H 5636 and S 740 both call for moving the Rhode Island presidential primary for 2008 and all subsequent cycles from March 18* to February 5. Each bill has been introduced and referred to the Judiciary Committee in their respective chambers, but the Senate, where the bill was first introduced, has been the first to act. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a hearing on the matter scheduled for April 10. No similar action has been taken on the House side as of yet.

*Both bills cite March 18 as the 2008 primary date when in the past the Rhode Island primary has been held on the first Tuesday in March. This runs contrary to where most sources have the state's primary for the 2008 cycle.

HB 2211 would move the 2008 presidential primary in Tennessee from February 12 to February 5. The Tennessee House passed the bill by a vote of 91-2 on March 22, 2007. The bill's version in the Senate (SB 2012) has been referred to the State and Local Government Committee and is on the calendar there for April 10. The legislature's website will not allow a direct link, but searching for either of the bills referenced here will give you a detailed history of their paths through both chambers.

As I discussed in my post late last week, a bill to move Texas' 2008 presidential primary had passed the House Elections Committee. Though there were other bills (HB 993 and HB 996), HB 2017 has been the only one to get out of committee.* The plan in that bill calls for moving the state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. As of April 4, 2007, HB 2017 had been placed on the House calendar for consideration on the floor. The bill's companion in the Senate (SB 1843), has been introduced and referred to the State Affairs Committee, where it has been waiting for action since March 19.

*The "text" tab in the series of tabs running along the top of the page in the above links provides the bill as introduced as well as the bill's analysis from the Elections Committee report in the case of HB 2017.

Welcome to February 5, New Jersey

In a weekend dominated by the disclosure of the presidential candidates' first quarter campaign receipts, New Jersey governor, John Corzine, signed into law a plan (Bill S2193) to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to the increasingly popular first Tuesday in February. As CQ Politics reports, the state moved for the second time this cycle; first moving from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June to the last Tuesday in February and then from that date to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February. State lawmakers in New Jersey cited voting rights as their main motivation. The reason for the first move was to enhance the state's say in who the major parties' nominees are to be. With more and more states clustering on February 5 however, affecting the nominations appeared less and less likely.

Of course, such a move can be seen as necessary only if one feels the nominations will be decided on or before February 5. If one is to believe the state legislatures and state parties making the decisions to move and the media, then the consensus appears to fall firmly behind that notion. However, if the picture is muddled as to which candidates remain viable after the de facto national primary on that first February Tuesday, then the February 26 date New Jersey initially moved to may have proven more consequential. Some of this thinking is reflected in the recent discussions in the Maryland legislature to move the state's primary to the week following the fifth.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Add Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and Texas to the List of Potential Movers

On the heels of the announcement Tuesday that Connecticut was set to consider a move to February 5, several other states got closer to moving their own delegate selection events.

Barack Obama's campaign got a bit of a boost yesterday when his home state of Illinois took the first step toward moving its 2008 presidential primary into the logjam on February 5. The Illinois House overwhelming (110-4) backed a plan to move the primary from March 20 to February 5 according to the Chicago Tribune. This would give Obama a good chance at a potentially "easy" state with numerous delegates. But it would be a state that he would absolutely have to take, one would think, to remain viable in the contest. I haven't strayed to far into candidate strategy in the blog thus far, but there is a scenario where he could win several other prized states and still lose Illinois. Typically though, losing one's home state is a harbinger of things to come and is certainly something that would get some mileage in the press.

As reported at, Louisiana Secretary of State, Jay Dardenne, mentioned in a radio interview that plans to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to an even earlier date than the current February 9 date are being considered by the state legislature. One interesting plan being considered is making the primary a non-binding beauty contest and holding it simultaneously with the November 2007 gubernatorial election in the state. In Dardenne's own words, this would save the state the one and a half million dollars the presidential primary would ordinarily cost. Additionally, the non-binding nature of the contest would exempt it from the delegate selection rules of both national parties.

Another article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday discussed the possibilities being considered by the two major parties in Michigan. Like South Carolina, the state parties in Michigan determine when and what kind of delegate selection event to hold. State Republicans are looking at January 29 (South Carolina Democratic and Florida primaries) and February 2 (South Carolina GOP primary) as possible dates to replace the current February 26 date. The Democrats, already tentatively scheduled for a February 9 (Louisiana primary) caucus, are considering a move to an even earlier date if more states move ahead of February 5 in defiance of the Democrats' delegate selection rules. As Michigan Democratic Party chairman, Mark Brewer said,
We're still determined to go earlier than any state that violates the scheduling rules. That applies to New Hampshire. It applies to any state. Any state that violates the schedule will trigger us going earlier."
Another possibility is that both state parties agree to hold either their caucuses or semi-closed primaries on the same day.


Oregon's legislature has also been tinkering with the idea of moving the state's May 20 presidential primary to, believe it or not, February 5. That plan (House Bill 2084) unanimously passed the House Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee yesterday, blogger Edward Walsh at The Oregonian reported. Because of the plan's $2.3 to $2.8 million price tag, it must first clear the Joint Ways and Means Committee before moving on to a formal vote.

No paper in Texas wanted to report what House committee in the Texas legislature passed a plan to move the state's 2008 primary to February 5, only that it has passed a committee. Of those papers in major Texas cities, the Dallas Morning News has the most informative summary. Even that may be due to the fact that a local representative, Helen Giddings, introduced the bill (HB 2017). The Texas legislature's web site confirms that HB 2017 was voted on and passed by the House Elections Committee. Here is the bill's language and here are the minutes from the committee's meeting. The plan would move the primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Connecticut Set to Discuss Moving to Feb. 5

The Norwich Bulletin reports that the Government, Administration and Elections Committee of the Connecticut legislature is set to discuss on Friday a plan to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5. The plan would move Connecticut's primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February in 2008.

New Hampshire Primary to Stay Put?

The Primary Source at the Boston Globe quoted New Hampshire Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, as saying:

"Like we have before we are going to honor the Iowa law. I hope [Iowa] will honor ours as well."

The implication there is that the state is not looking into jumping ahead of the Iowa caucuses to counter the rush to February 5. Much of that depends not on Iowa though, but other states threatening to further upend the traditional beginning to the presidential nomination process. I say this with the South Carolina Republican Party's potential move in mind. Should that move into 2007 come to fruition, New Hampshire would certainly not stand by idly and allow its traditional position to be swiped.

Thanks to The Caucus at the New York Times for the link to the report.

Nevada Republicans to Move Caucus in Line with Democratic Caucus

Though the measure will not come up for a formal vote until April 4, the executive committee of the Nevada Republican Party has decided to move the party's caucus to coincide with the Democratic presidential caucus on January 19. The LA Times reports that the party has cited several reasons for the move. First, the rank and file members of the state party objected to the move earlier this month to a February 7 caucus date as not early enough. The party also raised concerns about the Democratic build up in the state for the earlier caucus turning the state blue in November 2008. This move, like those in South Carolina and Florida, would be subject to sanctions laid out in the national Republican party's delegate selection rules. However, Nevada Republicans are making the move and hoping that the national party suspends those rules when more states ignore the delegate selection window described in those rules.