Monday, December 24, 2007

Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean that the Campaign is on hold

Actually, since I've been traveling (or preparing to) for the last couple days, the little bits of news from the trail have been piling up. It was a bit of a bummer to wake up this morning and find the map of campaign stops blank. I guess the candidates have to take a break sometime, but their recent blitz has taken its toll on voters in New Hampshire. Here are some things that have happened in the last few days:

1) The Campaign Discussion Group Committee of Seven has picked a Clinton-Romney match up for the general election.* The Clinton political machine wrapped up a 5-2 victory over Obama on the Democratic side while Romney was only able to secure a plurality for the GOP nomination. Guiliani was a close second with two votes and Huckabee and McCain got one vote apiece. Depending on when the group reconvenes for pre-/post-Iowa discussions, I thought it would be interesting to hold another "primary" online to allow those who were unable to participate last Friday to weigh in and to see if those who did, changed their minds (Fine, let's put it in the vernacular of the season: flip-flopped). I'll make a stand-alone post later in the week, so stop by and give us your choice for each party (given up-to-the-minute information) and a reason(s) for that choice in the comments section.

2) In the post below, Rob points out that Guiliani can get by on name-recognition alone (probably the only candidate on the GOP side that can make that claim). Adam Nagourney at the New York Times puts together a nice piece here concerning Guiliani's recent issues. The prevailing sentiment from that article is that Guiliani perhaps peaked too early; a charge that could be levied against any of the top four Republican candidates. But as Chris Cillizza put it in putting together his rankings of the candidates, someone has to win the GOP nomination.

3) Paul (via Audrey Haynes) just sent over the results of a Pew Research poll looking at the dynamics of the races on both sides. And given the gap in candidate satisfaction among each party's voters, it should come as no surprise that Democratic voters, are more prone to shifts based on personal or tactical errors while those on the GOP side are focused almost completely on the ideological differences among their candidates. Republicans just don't know their candidates as well as they have in the past (That and there's no "heir apparent" for them this time around.).

4) This from today's AJC isn't news so much but it does reflect the prevailing thinking among the members of the group: that the GOP nomination is the one more likely to go to and be decided at the convention (or past Super Tuesday).

5) Finally, I think we'll all find it interesting that the FEC is stuck in limbo this holiday season as a standoff between the White House and Senate continues over nominees to the commission. The effect that having only two of six members in position will have on the commission and the role it plays in the primary campaign is unknown, but it is a piece of information to file away for a later time.

As always the comments section is open to any and all comers. So have at it.

* The Committee of Seven reserves the right to change its mind at any time and for any reason. And with less than two weeks until Iowa, those changes may come more often than not.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Day That Was (12-20-07)

Tom Tancredo is out of the race for the Republican nomination. And he's decided to back Romney. Now why couldn't Tommy Thompson and Sam Brownback have held on long enough to make powerful, last minute endorsements prior to Iowa? And who are they endorsing again (I had to look it up: Thompson backs Guiliani and Brownback's for McCain.)?

So the question(s) of the night: 1) What impact does this have and 2) Does it matter anyway?

With Iowa now only two weeks away (Yes, only two weeks left. It's a mad rush and I'm already trying to fend off the primary season withdrawals I expect to have on February 6.), this is a well-timed exit/endorsement. And it looks even better that Tancredo, despite being the longest of long shots, was the one real issue candidate in the race. His position as the "immigration guy" now gives Romney a little something to hang his hat on concerning the issue. And he needs any extra push he can get now in Iowa to keep the Huckabee momentum at bay. How does that play in the general election though should Romney get the nod on the GOP side? Immigration is clearly an important issue for Republicans, but the position(s) posited thus far by the candidates seems to put any of them on the wrong side of the issue among the entire electorate.

Obama is facing yet another sticky issue. The latest question has arisen over the number of "present" votes he made while in the Illinois State Senate. There's yes. There's no. And then there's present. Were they votes made on principle as a sign of protest? "I'm here but I'm not going to vote for/against this piece of legislation until it is in its final form." Or were they votes intended to avoid taking a stance on some important issue. "I'm here, but I'm not touching that bill with a ten foot poll." The former is one thing, but the latter is obviously potentially more damaging. Ah, the pitfalls of being a legislator: actually having to vote on issues that may come back to haunt you later.

One other thing that I have wanted to bring up the last couple of weeks in the "live" discussion that may be better dealt with in this forum is the issue that IHOP is raising over so many states holding primaries and caucuses on February 5. That day happens to be National Pancake Day and the company has gone as far as writing the governors of fifteen states asking them to move their states primaries to different dates. Sadly, someone over in the research department didn't do their homework on this: North Carolina got a letter and the primary there is not until May 6, a day far removed from National Pancake Day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And the Campaign Discussion Group goes online

Here are a few things of note for the group in the lead up to our discussion on Friday:

1) Hillary Clinton and John McCain receive the endorsements of the Des Moines Register. Experience seems to be the name of the game for the editorial board at the paper. How else could you explain McCain getting the nod on the Republican side? Iowa hasn't been his strength in either 2000 or 2008. What impact will it have on the race? Well, Edwards got the paper's blessing in 2004 and that certainly didn't hurt him on his way to a surprising second place finish in the state. It is interesting that the write up of the endorsement made mention of this. And I will admit that I'm torn as to how to take the mention of the 2004 endorsement. Is the editorial board saying, "Well, this guy did well here four years ago and he's in this race as a top tier candidate too," or "This guy did well here four years ago and well, he's in third now." What does everyone else think?

2) And speaking of Hillary... Another of her surrogates, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, made the mistake of opening his mouth about Obama (then backed away from them). Fresh off the Bill Shaheen comments about possible drug use in Obama's past, the Clinton camp found another of its backers, Kerrey, highlighting the Illinois senator's middle name (Hussein) and Muslim background following an event with the former first lady. I thought it was the bloggers and members of the new media who were supposed to threaten the power candidates have over their own campaigns, not those within their camp.

3) Mitt Romney is making a rare stop in Georgia today. His swing through South Carolina closes across the border with meeting with the press in Savannah, GA. And who said Feb. 5 wasn't early enough for Georgia. [Blogger raising hand.]

4) Finally, if you don't already be sure and check out these other blogs:
The Fix (by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post): US elections in general are covered.
The Caucus (The New York Times politics blog): Campaign 2008
The Primary Source (by James Pindell of the Boston Globe): All about NH.

Feel free to drop a comment or any news you have by clicking on the link below. This should be fun.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Phase II

Now that the calendar for the 2008 presidential primary season has been officially (and completely?) set, I'm done with this thing for a while, right? Well, states probably won't shift their focus to 2012 until 2009 at the earliest (Arkansas, for example, moved to February 5, 2008 in 2005.), but the campaign presses on and the ramifications of the frontloading this cycle have yet to fully play out. So, this blog will continue to track those developments.

However, I'll also be adding a new feature. Over the holidays, I'll (we'll) take University of Georgia political science professor, Paul Gurian's quadrennial campaign discussion group online. With the Iowa caucuses coming on the heels of the holiday season this cycle and with school still being out, the group regulars will need an outlet. Hopefully regular posts and comments can help bridge that gap. Once the semester gets underway and the group resumes meeting regularly, I plan to use this forum as a means of satisfying the instant historians/political scientists out there. I want to augment our Wednesday discussions (not displace them) with posts and comments the night(s) that primary and caucus results are coming in. Sometimes you can't wait until the day after to weigh in on what's happened, right?

And to think, primary season might have kicked off today

Ah, what could have been. Today is the day New Hampshire's presidential primary could have been held. Sure, it turned out that December 11 was nothing more than a Bill Gardner scare tactic to show the rest of the states considering crowding New Hampshire at the front of the line that the state would not be crowded. But it is fun to think of how different the last two and half weeks would have been if Gardner had announced a move to Dec. 11 back on the day before Thanksgiving. The direction of the race would have taken on a completely different tilt. On the Republican side: Would Huckabee have risen the way he has or would he be peaking at the right time? Would Romney have made his religion speech or held that until the time between New Hampshire and the Iowa caucuses (if it was even necessary)? On the Democratic side: Would the coronation of Hillary Clinton have begun? She's comfortably ahead in New Hampshire and having that contest first would have been a potential boon to her chances. From her campaign's perspective, it sure beats the three-way dead heat that polls in Iowa are showing. Would we even be talking about Obama and Edwards? For this cycle though, we'll have to live with the ho-hum IA-NH-some other states-Super Tuesday progression toward the nominations in both parties.

Other News:
New Hampshire:
Fine, I missed the boat on New Hampshire's announcement to hold their primary on January 8. "And you call yourself Frontloading HQ?" Well yeah, I guess I still do. I will admit that the timing of the announcement was odd. It came across like one of those Friday afternoon leaks of information to the press that presidential administrations have always had an affinity for. It just got lost in the shuffle on a day when folks were preparing to give thanks. Of course those in the Granite State may be thankful that the powers that be (Secretary of State Bill Gardner) didn't rock the boat too much (Dec. 11 primary) triggering reform that could have bumped New Hampshire from its lofty position at the front of the primary line.

After having the January 15 primary struck down by a circuit court, the state appealed the decision only to have the state Court of Appeals affirm the lower court's ruling (that public voter lists should not go exclusively to two private entities, the state parties) on November 16.
Incidentally, that date was to have been the date on which the two parties were to have decided if they were even going to opt into the primary system set up in the initial law. The state then appealed to the state Supreme Court and won a 4-3 decision, putting the January 15 primary back in place. That triggered the New Hampshire announcement later in the afternoon.

The state legislature in Massachusetts also made news by moving the state's 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. The bill, SB 2414 made it through the Senate on Nov. 15 (by a vote of 33-5), the House on Nov. 20 (by a vote of 135-17) and was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick on Nov. 26. So, now Massachusetts joins half the country on February 5 for the Super Tuesday extravaganza that will (if you follow the model established in the years since 1988) most likely determine the nominees from both parties.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Still no word out of the Granite State, but there is other news

As New Hampshire continues to play the waiting game as far as when the state plans on scheduling its 2008 (2007?) presidential primary, some other things of note have surfaced.

The Rhode Island Flip-Flop
Who said flip-floppery was the sole domain of junior senators from Massachusetts? Late last week in a session to reexamine vetoed bills (and other bills not passed during the regular session), the Rhode Island General Assembly initially indicated that it would not take up the bill (S1152 - To see the actions taken on the bill search for "1152" here.) moving the state's 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Later on October 30, that decision was reversed and the Democratic-controlled Assembly, not only took up the measure, but passed it when the special session continued on Halloween. However, Republican governor, Donald Carcieri, decided four days later to veto the bill citing difficulties in administering an earlier election.

Michigan in Trouble
And if you thought Michigan going on January 15 was a done deal, hold tight. First, a group of journalists and political consultants filed a lawsuit in county circuit court claiming that the new Michigan primary law was unconstitutional. The new law requires voters to identify themselves and which party ballot they would prefer. The resulting list of voters, according to the law, would then belong exclusively to the two state parties. At dispute is that private entities (the two state parties) have exclusive access to public information (voter lists). The lower court judge then sided with the plaintiff (This link the Ballot Access News has a nice comment from New Hampshire state legislator and Bill Gardner confidante, Jim Splaine.), nullifying the law. Understandably this triggered a scramble within the Michigan legislature. A bill rectifying the problems cited in the lawsuit passed the Michigan Senate 26-9, but Democrats refused to support a motion granting the measure immediate effect. As a result the changes would not have gone through until March, well after the January 15 primary date set forth in the unconstitutional law and now the bill to fix it. So what does all of this mean? Well, not too much really. The initial law has a cut off point of November 16 for the two state parties to decide if they will even use the primary on January 15. The Michigan GOP seems to be firmly set on Jan. 15, but the Democrats (who traditionally use a caucus as their means of allocating delegates) are still undecided as to when they will go and the method they will use. All this unpredictability does it push back the time when New Hampshire will announce and ultimately go. The longer this goes on though, the less likely a Dec. 11 New Hampshire primary is.

Massachusetts to Move?
From the looks of it, Massachusetts may be the latest to add its name to the February 5 juggernaut (see also Ballot Access News). The legislature has until the end of the session (Nov. 21) to get a bill passed moving the 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Democratic governor, Deval Patrick has signaled that he would support such a bill if it appeared on his desk for signature.

Where will New Hampshire end up?
No one really knows. Correction: one person knows. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. And he'll only say that the decision will be made sometime during November.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jan. 3 for Iowa Democrats too

CQPolitics is reporting that yesterday the central committee of the Iowa Democratic Party chose January 3, 2008 as the date for the party's caucuses.

It is now up to New Hampshire secretary of state, Bill Gardner, to finalize the calendar for the 2008 presidential nomination cycle. That decision is supposed to come sometime during the month of November. The ace up the secretary's sleeve is the threat to move the state's primaries to December 11, 2007, tearing down the precedent that delegate selection events should take place in the same year as the general election. Michigan senator, Carl Levin, has issued a counter-threat to have Michigan go on the same date as New Hampshire if the Granite State opts for a date earlier than when Michigan is currently positioned on January 15. This seems like a move to almost dare New Hampshire to move to December 11; a move that would undoubtedly spur talks of reforming the system of determining which states go first or which states go when. New Hampshire and Iowa have the most to lose in that scenario.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Iowa GOP to Jan. 3...for now

The Iowa Republican party acted on Tuesday, October 16, to move the party's 2008 presidential caucuses to January 3. The move (from January 14) once again restores, at least for now, one of Iowa's parties to the traditional first in the nation position. As The Caucus blog indicated in a post yesterday though, the party was set to discuss the "pros and cons" of a January 3 or 5 date for the GOP caucuses, with a lean toward the 3rd. I'm a bit surprised to hear that Iowa Republicans went ahead and made the move, especially since there are rumors swirling that New Hampshire may make the leap in to 2007 with a December 11 primary (for both parties).

As the calendar stands now:
Jan. 3: Iowa GOP caucuses
Jan. 5: Wyoming GOP caucuses
Jan. 14: Iowa Dems caucuses
Jan. 15: Michigan primary
Jan. 19: Nevada caucuses, South Carolina primary
Jan. 22: New Hampshire primary
Jan. 29: Florida primary
Feb. 5: Super Tuesday

Now let's play Fact or Fiction:
  • Fiction: Iowa Dems on January 14. I would be surprised if the Iowa Democrats do not end up on the same date as the state GOP, whenever that is (December 3 or January 3).
  • Fiction: New Hampshire on January 22. New Hampshire will either go on January 8 or December 11.
  • Fact: Wyoming GOP, South Carolina, Florida and Michigan are more than likely set. Never say never, though, when it comes to 2008 presidential primary/caucus dates.
  • Fact: Nevada may or may not move from January 19 to January 12. It is under consideration.
  • Fact: Both parties' nominations will be decided on February 5.
The pool of early states will stay the same, but the order has yet to be solidified. The ball is in New Hampshire's (or Secretary of State Bill Gardner's) court now. And that decision is suppose to come sometime next month.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Move of all Moves

January 22 never was going to be the date of the New Hampshire presidential primary in 2008; at least not after states like Florida, and to a greater extent, Michigan began encroaching on the state's first in the nation turf. Recently the speculation then has centered on New Hampshire going on January 8, 2008. Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, said recently that the state would hold its 2008 primary at least two weeks earlier than the fourth Tuesday in January date used during the 2004 race. And the second Tuesday in January 2008 is January 8.

This week however, Gardner and those around him, hinted that another date is being considered: December 11. That's the bombshell that has been out there since everyone began crowding New Hampshire and Iowa; a move that both states were hoping to avoid, but became almost inevitable following Michigan's move to January 15.

So, New Hampshire's legislature ceded the decision to place the primary date to the Secretary of State in 1975, freeing the state to move the presidential primary date with the least amount of resistance. If Michigan were to react, another special session of the state legislature would have to be convened to get the move passed. There was Democratic resistance within the legislature over the move to January 15 and any move to an even earlier date, would surely face greater scrutiny than its predecessor. In other words, Michigan and New Hampshire are not on a level playing field in this regard.

Now let the chain reaction commence. If New Hampshire is on December 11, will Iowa move to December 3, the traditional eight days ahead of the New Hampshire primary? Or will the Democratic and Republican parties in Iowa be content to be the first caucus in the nation, and not THE first contest overall? If past experience tells us anything, it is that Iowa will lean toward the former. If either or both moves come to pass, then I will have been off by a week in my guess (IA on Dec. 10 and NH on Dec. 18). But earlier is earlier, I suppose, at least in the minds of New Hampshirites and Iowans.

If this happens, the candidates had better get cracking because December 11 is less than two months away.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Who Thought the Ride was Over?

After a quiet month on the frontloading front, it looks like the efforts are set to begin anew. And no, not for 2012. The dust has settled on the Florida and Michigan moves, but that has only triggered action on the part of the four states granted exemptions by the Democratic National Committee. Sure, Iowa and New Hampshire were always going to wait it out and set their dates at the last possible moment (Note: Both national parties' deadlines to set primary and caucus dates passed last month.), but now Nevada and South Carolina are taking a "Hey, we're exempt too" approach. "And since we're exempt, you wouldn't mind if we go ahead and move up a week or so, would you?"

With Florida smack dab on top of them on January 29, South Carolina Democrats now want the Democratic primary in the state to coincide with the Republican primary on January 19 according to The Caucus blog on the New York Times web site. The difference here is that South Carolina Democrats are not going it alone like Florida and Michigan before them. With the exemption from the national party still in place, they are going through the DNC to get the move on the books.

This line of thought seems to be prevailing further west in Nevada as well. Members of both state parties are discussing a move to January 12 (from January 19 where South Carolina is setting up shop) for both caucuses. The LA Times Top of the Ticket blog is reporting that such a move has been and is being discussed within the state and that party leaders there are waiting on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to move first. Waiting on South Carolina is one thing, but with this being the first high-profile caucus ever in Nevada, organizing this thing and playing a game of chicken with the pros from Iowa and New Hampshire is a different can of worms entirely.

And if those two potential moves were not enough, Iowa Republicans are eyeing January 3 as a possible spot for the caucuses there. The Caucus reports that that date is the recommendation of the state GOP's central committee. Interestingly, state Democrats are considering a January 5 caucus date; a rare date split between the two Hawkeye State parties.

What about New Hampshire, you ask? Well, word out of the Granite State is that Secretary of State Gardner has indicated that a date at least two weeks prior to the date used in 2004 is likely. For those of you scoring at home, that would be the second Tuesday in January at the latest (January 8). Regardless, the date is to be set within the next month. Thanks to Ballot Access News for that.

So here's the potential calendar as of October 8 (January dates only):
Thursday Jan. 3: Iowa GOP caucuses
Saturday Jan. 5: Iowa Dem. caucuses, Wyoming GOP caucuses
Tuesday Jan. 8: New Hampshire Dem./GOP primaries
Saturday Jan. 12: Nevada Dem./GOP caucuses
Tuesday Jan. 15: Michigan Dem./GOP primaries
Saturday Jan. 19: South Carolina Dem./GOP primaries
Tuesday Jan. 29: Florida Dem./GOP primaries

Iowa and New Hampshire might be trying to avoid moving into 2007, but it is looking pretty crowded up there at the front. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It is Official in Michigan and Nebraska Dems Embrace an Early Caucus

Michigan solidified its presidential primary position with Gov. Jennifer Granholm's signature on Tuesday. The Democratic governor signed SB 624 into law moving the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15. You can read more from the AP and from CQ. This is a daring move from lawmakers and party leaders in Michigan though. With the DNC leveling its all or nothing delegate ultimatum to the Florida delegation and with the RNC not holding back either, Michigan is gambling for sure. Also not helping is the fact that the top Democratic candidates have now pledged to skip out on campaigning in any states violating the Democrats delegate selection rules. It will be an interesting showdown between Michigan/Florida and the national parties as this thing plays out. Both states appear to be taking a defiant stance.

Also, Nebraska Democrats made the news on Wednesday after deciding on abandoning delegate selection by primary. The typical late May primary has been dropped in favor of a February 9 caucus (the same day as the primary in Louisiana). The state party claims the move was made to "energize the party." Energizing by creating a contest that fosters lower turnout. I know I'd be energized if I was a Nebraska Democrat. Jokes aside however, both Nebraska and Louisiana would be the first in line to be important should the de facto national primary on February 5 produce muddled results.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And it is on to the Governor with the Michigan Primary Plan

Why wait for it to be reported when you can go straight to the source? The Michigan legislature's web page now shows that SB 624 (the bill to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15) was discharged from the House Ethics and Elections Committee today and was subsequently passed by a vote of 67 - 34 on the floor. The bill then went to the Senate where it passed the House alterations by a vote of 36- 0 with two either excused or abstaining members. Now the plan heads to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk where it is expected to be signed.

Your move Iowa and New Hampshire.

More later...
UPDATE: Ah, here's an AP account of what happened.
UPDATE II: And here is the story from CQ.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tomorrow is Decision Day in the Michigan House

According to The Detroit News, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) today said that action would be taken on Thursday to get the legislation (SB 624) that would move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15 out of the Ethics and Elections Committee. The bill has been stuck in that committee since last week when the Senate passed it. Chairman Marc Corriveau, who is a Democrat, opposes the measure and has attempted to bottle up the bill in the committee. House Speaker Andy Dillon (D) however, has indicated to the governor that a vote (or votes) will take place tomorrow to get the bill out of committee where it can then be voted on by the entire chamber. The chamber is split 58-52 in favor of the Democrats, and with Republicans supporting the move, gaining a majority on this bill should not be an insurmountable task. That would then send the legislation to a supportive governor.

Wyoming GOP Stakes Its Claim

After earlier this year voting to hold their nomination conventions on the same day as the New Hampshire primary (whenever that was), the Wyoming Republican Party reconsidered. With New Hampshire tentatively (And when I say tentatively, I mean this is the latest possible date on which New Hampshire will hold its primary.) slotted in on January 8, this moved Wyoming as well. Apparently that wasn't early enough for Wyoming Republicans. Bent on getting hard core Republican candidates like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani to plow through feet-deep snow drifts in the lead up to delegate-binding county conventions, the Wyoming GOP moved those conventions up to January 5. No, not February 5.

January 5.

Snow drifts aside, this is the earliest contest with a set date at this time. And because, as I stated earlier today, Republican National Committee rules exempt caucuses and conventions from frontloading sanctions, this is all fine. Granted not all of the state's delegates are up for grabs, but nearly half of the state's 28 delegates will be at stake on that day.

So take that Michigan.

Correction: RNC rules exempt states that do not allocate delegates in the first step of their process. Iowa and Nevada qualify for that exemption, but Wyoming does not.

Minnesota Democrats Join Feb. 5

Joining their GOP counterparts, Minnesota Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move their 2008 presidential caucus to February 5. Given that this was already in their delegate selection plan as of July 21, I thought the move from March 4 was already a done deal. You can read more about the move here and here. Thanks to Ballot Access News and Political Wire for the heads up on the USA Today blog.

Now the RNC is Getting in on the Act

Not content to let the Democratic National Committee alone attempt to deal with the "problem" of frontloading, the Republican National Committee on Tuesday made clear that it too would enforce its rules on delegate selection. What does that mean and who is affected? According to the rules (see my earlier post), states holding presidential primaries during the 2008 cycle, must do so between February 5 and the first Tuesday in June (June 3, 2008). In case you hadn't noticed, no one seems to be queuing on the back end. So which states are under fire from the GOP for attacking the front end? Florida, already under scrutiny from national Democrats for the state's proposed plan to hold a primary on January 29, is joined by South Carolina, Michigan and, believe it or not, New Hampshire.

Those four states face losing half of their delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next summer for violating the window rule. Florida, South Carolina and Michigan make sense. But why sanction New Hampshire? And why now? And come to think of it, why not Iowa? Iowa and Nevada are exempt from penalties because both states are holding non-binding caucuses and not primaries.

UPDATE (8-30-07):
After checking the Republican delegate selection rules again, caucuses and conventions are mentioned by name; not just primaries. However, Nevada and Iowa are non-binding contests which exempts them from national GOP scrutiny. Wyoming, on the other hand, is vulnerable to sanction because the plan recently decided upon there would award 12 of the state's 28 delegates during that first step on January 5.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

February 5 Adds Montana GOP Caucus

The Montana Republican Party voted yesterday to break with tradition (What else is new this cycle?), spurning the state's June primary date to adopt a caucus for allocating delegates to next September's GOP Convention in Minneapolis, MN. The GOP caucus in Montana joins caucuses in Alaska, Colorado (D), Minnesota (R), and North Dakota as well as primaries in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico (D), New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah on February 5. That now brings the total to 20 contests on that day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ouch! Florida Democrats Hit Where it Hurts

Out to avenge the irritation of having it own primary calendar plan defied, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee moved today to strip Florida of ALL the state's delegates to next year's convention if they continue with the plan to hold their 2008 presidential primary on January 29. State Democrats now have thirty days to revise and resubmit a delegate selection plan to the national party.

All week Florida Democrats talked a good game: urging Florida Democratic voters to contact the committee, arguing of the disenfranchisement of voters stripped of a meaningful primary, and today before the committee, claiming that the party had gone to lengths to prevent the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican governor from defying both parties' delegate selection rules. None of that seemed to pass with the members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee though.

So what does all this mean? First of all, Florida Democrats will most likely hold a caucus on February 5. But does the beauty contest on January 29 now open the door for candidates to campaign in Florida again? That is the big question. If that is a loophole candidates can now take advantage of, then it would put to rest the arguments that preventing an official primary on the 29th, effectively hurts any nominee in the general election (An argument I don't put much stock in in the first place. Primary voters are the parties' core constituents and aren't going to be dissuaded from voting in the general election because of something like this; especially in light of the experiences the state had in the 2000 election.). This also sets a precedent for how the Committee would deal with the Michigan case should the State House pass the bill moving the state's primary to January 15. That decision could come as soon as next week.

EDIT: Well, apparently Florida Democrats doubt the feasibility of holding a party-funded primary. They seem somewhat taken aback by the severity of the party's decision, but are nonetheless holding their ground.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Showdown between Florida Democrats and National Democrats

Not to be outdone by Michigan and South Carolina, Florida remains in the news over the planned January 29 presidential primary there. State Democrats in Florida are vulnerable to penalties from the national party if they hold their primary on that date. In a conference call with state and local reporters yesterday however, Florida Democratic Party chair, Karen Thurman, dismissed the notion of the primary being a beauty contest that would precede a meaningful primary or caucus held on a later date. State and national party officials will meet this weekend to discuss the issue. For the time being however, Florida Democrats seem to be holding their line; declining partial funding of a caucus from the national party under the rationale that some voters would be disenfranchised.

Read more from the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michigan Expedites the Process

I'm surprised that it took the state legislature in Michigan until Wednesday to act on this, but the Senate today amended the language concerning the date of the state's 2008 presidential primary in SB 624. A bill that originally sought to change the date from February 26 to January 29 now seeks to bump the date up an additional two weeks to January 15. The Senate then passed the bill by a vote of 21 - 17 and transmitted it to the House where it already received its first reading. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has already indicated that she would sign the bill if it made it through the legislature.

Iowa and New Hampshire have the next move.

Arizona's in too...officially

I swear, creating a summary of the presidential primary and caucus movement for the 2008 cycle seemed like a good idea at the time. With the rapid pace with which things are changing this time around though, such an effort can prove pointless before it is even done. At least I had the foresight to include a "Still Up in the Air" section. Michigan was the first state to prove why it was among those states with information coming out late last week that the state was considering a move to January 15. Arizona now becomes the latest on that list to make a move. As I mentioned in the summary last week, the speculation for much of the year has been that Arizona would move to February 5. And kudos to Governor Janet Napolitano (D) for exhibiting some restraint in her proclamation and not moving the state's presidential preference election any earlier. With Florida, South Carolina Republicans and now Michigan thwarting national party rules, the temptation to go even earlier must have been there to some degree.

Let's step back and scrutinize the Arizona case though. Most major news accounts, and even blogs, are simply saying that Gov. Napolitano has issued a proclamation to move the state's primary. All the while, political observers are missing the uniqueness of the Arizona system; mainly that the governor is making the decision to frontload and not the state legislature, as is the case for the majority of states that have moved thus far this cycle. The Arizona state legislature created a presidential primary (see the history section in the link) during the 1992 session (to take effect in 1996), but amended the statute in 1995 before it had even been tested. The new law (as altered by SB 1263) changed the designation of the election from a primary to a preference election (because the winner would not necessarily appear on the general election ballot), changed the date of the election from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February, and granted the governor the power to issue a proclamation changing the date of the election.

This gubernatorial power went unused through two cycles (1996 and 2000), but as several states moved into February for the 2004 cycle, Gov. Napolitano became the first governor to exercise this power, bumping up the date of the election three weeks to join six other states on the first Tuesday in February. Here is the proclamation from 2004. Just yesterday Gov. Napolitano repeated the action, moving the election to February 5. Here is a link to the governor's press release (click view file under the appropriate Aug. 21st entry).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Michigan is the latest monkeywrench in the 2008 primary calendar

On a day when I went forward with a summary post of what has happened in terms of primary and caucus movement for the 2008 cycle, Michigan hit everyone (or those of us paying attention) with a bombshell. The state is apparently close to moving to January 15 according to Chuck Todd with NBC. Again, just today I made a post discussing both January 29 and February 5 as possibilities for a Michigan move. It looks like the legislature will kick things off next week with a new proposal in the Senate.

Now, what are the implications? Michigan on January 15 means New Hampshire won't be going on the 12th. After South Carolina's GOP moved to January 19, this seemed like an outside possibility, but now the three days between New Hampshire and Michigan will surely not be enough of a buffer for leaders in New Hampshire. January 8 is the next possibility, but as I discussed last week after the South Carolina move, that would push Iowa to December 31. This is the case because state law requires Iowa to precede and other contest by eight days. Neither New Year's Eve nor Christmas Eve is in play, so that pushes Iowa to go on December 17 at the latest. As I said last week, the most likely scenario is Iowa on December 10 and New Hampshire eight days later on December 18. If that happens Michigan may move again to January 8, where Senator Carl Levin apparently wanted the state to land, if not before.

This just got interesting...again.

An update on what's been happening over the summer

Who has moved, who hasn't and who hasn't decided for the 2008 cycle (since the last update)?

One thing to note: Deadlines for states to set their primary or caucus dates.
The Republican National Committee during their 2004 convention set the cut off at the first Tuesday in September (Sept. 4, 2007). All this is laid out in Rule 15.C.11 of the GOP rules. The sanctions for violation can be found in Rule 16.

The Democratic party requires that state parties submit their delegate selection plans to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee by September 16, 2007 (Rule 1.E). Since the state plans are to include dates for delegate selection events (Rule 11), Sept. 16 is the deadline to set these dates. Violations of the timing rules can be found in Rule 20.C.1.a & b.

It may take a lot of scrolling but you can find all the rules (and sanctions) mentioned if you follow the links for each party above.

While still up in the air, the speculation that Arizona would move to February 5, 2008 has been going around for quite some time. In fact, the first post on this blog shows the primary calendar as compiled by the National Association of Secretaries of State on March 20, 2007, and Arizona is penciled in as a state with a contest on February 5. The NASS's current calendar has Arizona's primary listed as set to occur on February 26, the same day as the Michigan primary. What make Arizona unique when it comes to setting presidential primary dates is that the governor can issue a proclamation to change the date. State law sets the fourth Tuesday in February as the date on which the primary is to occur. In 2004 however, Governor Janet Napolitano issued the first of these proclamations to move the state's contest from that date to the first Tuesday in February (February 3). Speculation continues that she will repeat the action during this cycle.

Florida threw the whole primary system on its head when Governor Charlie Crist signed HB 537 into law on May 21 (see press release from the governor's office). The bill called for moving the state's 2008 primary from the first Tuesday in March to January 29, the same day as the Democratic National Committee-allowed South Carolina Democratic primary. Florida's legislature went against both national parties in setting the date outside of the prescribed window in which delegate selection contests are to take place.

Since that time the South Carolina GOP has moved its primary from February 2 to January 19 in response to Florida's move. In addition, the Florida Democratic party has since buckled under the pressure from the national party to move back inside the window period or be sanctioned with a loss of delegates. Both Ballot Access News and have reported that the state Democratic party's Executive Committee has asked the state legislature to move the primary back a week to February 5 (I am somewhat hesitant to go forward with this given that neither site provides any documentation of any such occurrence. However, in the interest of a broader talking point, I'll throw it out there.). The Republican-controlled legislature reconvenes for a special session next month, but more than likely won't be interested in helping out its Democratic brethren. This puts the Democrats in Florida in a bit of a quandary: stay and accept the national party's sanctions or move back a week and fund its own primary or caucus. So Florida isn't officially set, at least on the Democratic side. Well, I don't suppose it is set on the GOP side either since the January 29 primary would trigger sanctions from the Republican National Committee as well.

Iowa: see SC post from Monday for the latest speculation.

The 2008 presidential primary in Michigan is currently scheduled for February 26, or three weeks after the February 5 blockbuster. However, two bills are making the rounds in the state Senate that would change that date. SB 624 would move the primary to January 29 for 2008 and set future presidential primaries to take place on the first Tuesday in February. SB 625 would permanently move the primary to the first Tuesday in February for 2008 and all subsequent cycles.
Ballot Access News adds an interesting bit of information. These bills would also require that voters choose which party's ballot they want when checking in at the polling station (as opposed to choosing in the voting booth in the past). This sort of primary is discouraged by the DNC and is the explanation for why Michigan Democrats have not recently had a presidential primary as a means of allocating the state's delegates. I don't suppose Michigan primary voters ever really had much of a choice in the first place with the Democrats not openly participating in the statewide primary. All that accomplished was to allow Democratic and independent voters to vote in the Republican primary (with the Democrats holding a caucus at some other time).

New Hampshire: see SC post from Monday for the latest speculation.

New Mexico:
The Democratic Party in New Mexico on August 2 submitted to the national party their delegate selection plan for 2008. This included the method by and date on which the Democratic delegates will be allocated. New Mexico Democrats have decided to hold their caucuses on February 5. This shift toward party determination of date and method of delegate selection took place prior to the 2004 cycle. Governor Bill Richardson signed into law H 1039 which left the decision up to the state parties. If either party chose to hold a primary then it would be held on the traditional first Tuesday in June date with the other state and local primaries. If however, either of the parties wanted to hold a delegate selection event at an earlier time they could opt to hold one. The law does not explicitly say whether the state parties foot the bill for these events, though one would assume they do. At this time, New Mexico Republicans have yet to decide on a date. Speculation exists through both the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Conference of State Legislatures that the GOP will join their Democratic brethren in New Mexico by moving to February 5.

Ohio (Up in the air, but not really):
A bill proposal to move Ohio's 2008 primary in line with Florida's January 29 contest in the Ohio Senate registered more than a blip on the radar in mid-July. At least the bill (SB 202) is up on the legislature's web page now. But it doesn't seem like it is going to go anywhere. It hasn't been assigned to committee yet after nearly a month. For the time being, it looks like Ohio will hold a first Tuesday in March primary.

It is difficult to get a feel for what Pennsylvania is going to do as far as its 2008 presidential primary is concerned. The date has been up in the air most of this year. The National Association of Secretaries of State on its constantly updated calendar (There's a link to a pdf of the calendar on the site's front page.) shows that the state legislature is still considering moves to either February 12 or March 4 from the fourth Tuesday in April. The bill that would move the primary to February 12 (HB 289) is the one that has received the most recent attention. Having passed the House, it is now under consideration in the Senate. There has not been any action on the March 4 proposals (that I could track down) since this past March. SB 516 was cited in an earlier post and is the bill that most "recently" included a provision to move the state's primary to March 4, 2008. It also would move the primary to March 6 for the 2012 cycle. Regardless, Pennsylvania still will not be a player in the de facto national primary on February 5.

: see previous post.

Alaska: Both the state Democratic and Republican parties opted to hold their caucuses and district conventions, respectively, on February 5 as of May 29, 2007 (read more from CQ here).

Arkansas: see previous post.

: see previous post.

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed SB 1184 into law on June 25. This moves the presidential primary in Connecticut from the old Super Tuesday (first Tuesday in March) to the new Super Duper Tuesday (February 5, 2008).

After the back and forth between the House and Senate on the last day of the Georgia General Assembly's session, a measure made it through in the form of an amendment to a broader elections bill that would move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5 from the first week in March. The original House bill calling for the same action didn't make the cut; getting the ax on the final day and causing the insertion of the amendment in the above bill. Governor Sonny Perdue signed the bill into law on May 29 (see the governor's press release and brace yourself, it's exciting). Here is a write-up from CQ.

Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law HB 0426 on June 20. The bill moves the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5.

Kansas: Though the Kansas legislature failed to pass a bill to institute a presidential primary for 2008, the state parties both decided to position their respective caucuses in February. The Democrats joined the queue for February 5 and the Republicans decided to wait until the weekend after the rush with a Saturday, February 9 caucus. Both moves are not being widely reported on the usual sites but there are a couple of articles here and here.

Louisiana: see previous post (no further changes).

Maryland: see previous post.

New Jersey: see previous post.

New York: see previous post.

North Dakota:
Buried deep in an AP story fronted by a headline touting John Edwards' troop plans was news that North Dakota had decided to move the state's 2008 caucuses to February 5. This was an ominous sign at odds with the argument that candidates would visit the state given by Secretary of State, Al Jaeger just one day prior on May 24.

South Carolina: see previous post.

Tennessee: see previous post.

Washington: A nine member committee (see the press release from the Secretary of State's office) made up of Washington state political leaders made the decision in June to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 19. Since that decision was made, the Washington Democratic party opted not to allocate delegates based on the primary and the Republican party will only distribute 51% of the state's delegates to the Republican convention through the contest. So while the state moved the primary from May into February (the same day as the Wisconsin primary), it is a mostly non-binding contest.

OUT (tried to move but did not):
: see previous post.

North Carolina:
Senate bill 168 was introduced in February 2007 but was stuck in committee when the General Assembly in Raleigh adjourned on August 2. With no special session in sight prior to when the national parties require states to have presidential primaries and caucuses set, North Carolina will continue to have a first week in May primary (May 6, 2008).

Since Oregon's legislature adjourned for the year on June 28 and no action was taken since April on the one bill (HB 2084) which would have moved Oregon's 2008 presidential primary to February 5, the state appears destined to hold it primary toward the end of the process (on May 20).

Rhode Island:
The state legislature's session ended in late June with no presidential primary movement. H5636 died in committee in the House as did a similar bill (S740) which had passed on the Senate side. Both plans called for moving the primary from March to February 5, 2008.

The plan that made its way through the Texas legislature (HB 2017) to move the primary from the first Tuesday in March to February 5 did not fail because it didn't have bipartisan support in both chambers. It failed because of opposition from both in and outside the capitol. County election clerks fretted over the impact the move would have on local elections (Texas law requires that the presidential and the state and local primaries be held on the same date.). Office-holding candidates seeking higher office (including some in the legislature, no doubt) also protested because filing to run would take place in 2007 (the year before the election), which under the Texas Constitution would force them to vacate their currently held offices. The last action taken on HB 2017 was on May 23, just four days before the legislature adjourned.

I'll supplement this later with other states that have made or tried to make moves, but this post is a good summary of what the big players for the 2008 cycle have done.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Novice blogger that I am (I guess I'm better at the archiving part.), I had the comments settings on the site set at "only registered users." Well, "anyone" can comment now. So have at it folks who want to comment.

Big thanks to Audrey Haynes for the heads up on that.

Also, I hope to have big update on the events of the summer (and before in some cases) up later today. Perhaps that'll give people something on which to comment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So South Carolina's Moving. Who're they taking with them?

Ever since March, when the Florida House first advanced the notion of a plan to move the state's 2008 presidential primary onto South Carolina's turf, South Carolina Republican Party Chair, Katon Dawson has been threatening to move the state's 2008 GOP primary. So when Florida finalized plans in late May to move to January 29th, the wheels were set in motion. I hesitate to call the South Carolina GOP's move the apex of primary movement for the '08 cycle, but it is the current "most consequential" move.

The game of one-upsmanship now shifts to Iowa and New Hampshire. State law in New Hampshire requires that the state's primary occur seven days prior to any similar contest. The South Carolina GOP's move to January 19 now puts that contest three days ahead of where New Hampshire is tentatively set and on the same day as the caucuses in Nevada. That, in turn, means that the contest in New Hampshire will take place no later than Saturday, January 12.

Now, when all this occurred, my first thought was that New Hampshire would not hold their primary on a Saturday, pushing the primary to the preceding Tuesday, January 8. That, in turn, would cause the Iowa caucuses to fall on New Year's Eve if the state were to maintain the same eight day buffer as in past cycles. And there is no way that is happening. The week prior to that is no good either, obviously. So to beat the holiday rush, Iowa would have to push forward all the way to Monday, December 17; over three weeks ahead of New Hampshire. That's not happening, part two enters here. New Hampshire would not allow there to be that much of a time span between the two contests.

At that point I envisioned both states working together to schedule their contests in early to mid-December: Iowa on December 10 and New Hampshire following on December 18. Those two states would beat the holidays and leave the nomination battle to heat up in the rest of the states starting with Nevada's caucuses and the South Carolina GOP's primary on January 19. To step back and look at the one month between New Hampshire and South Carolina/Nevada in that scenario, is to see something of a solution to the compression so many pundits bemoan as the darkest side of frontloading. However, it breaks something of an unspoken, cardinal rule in presidential politics: mainly, that an election cannot take place in the year prior to the year it is supposed to take place.

Primary and caucus contests breaking through into 2007 is a notion with which many have problems. In fact Iowa governor, Chet Culver, has stepped back from the brink and has attempted to assure everyone that he will work to keep the state's caucuses in 2008. This is made slightly easier by a law change in New Hampshire. The state legislature there passed a law freeing the secretary of state to set the primary date on a day other than Tuesday. That means that a Saturday, January 12 contest is a possibility. The ball is New Hampshire secretary of state, Bill Gardner's court now. What New Hampshire does will affect what Iowa does and that is the key in whether this presidential nomination race officially begins in 2007. And with the way things have gone in this cycle, I wouldn't eliminate that as a possibility.

There's one other factor to note: The parties' deadlines for setting the calendar are looming (September), so while that may force a decision out of either Iowa or New Hampshire, both may take a wait and see approach, letting the other state's positions solidify before deciding themselves

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ohio Looking to Crash the Party?

After saying in April that the state's presidential primary for 2008 was fine where it was--on the first Tuesday in March--the Ohio state legislature has reconsidered its position. Senator Eric Kearney of Cincinnati introduced a bill on Friday, cosponsored by fellow Democrats, Tom Roberts of Dayton and Shirley Smith of Cleveland, which would move the state's presidential primary for next year from March to January 29th. This is the same date as the South Carolina Democratic primary and the rule-bending primary for the state of Florida. It may be due to the actions of the latter that this action was taken in Ohio in the first place. Florida's, as has been discussed in earlier posts, is a primary outside of the parties' sanctioned windows--February 5 to the first week in June--in which primaries can be held.

At this time, the Ohio General Assembly website has not been updated to include information on bills introduced or acted upon on Friday, so information on the specifics of the bill are lacking at this time. However, it would appear that the bill has very little momentum. The Democratic Party in Ohio continues to support the March 4th primary date and the GOP, while not taking a position on the subject at this time, would not necessarily support a bill sponsored
three Senate Democrats.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Illinois Moves Closer to Feb. 5

The Illinios Senate yesterday (May 15) passed HB 426 which will move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5 from the third Tuesday in March. As the articles here and here indicate one of the prime motivations was to provide homegrown candidate, Barack Obama, an early possible win to bolster his campaign for the Democratic nomination. The plan now heads to Governor Blagojevich (D) who supports the move. If that comes to pass, Illinois would join other delegate-rich states, California, New York and New Jersey in addition to possibly fifteen to twenty more states on February 5.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Florida is a Crist Signature Away from Jan. 29

I may have been a bit presumptuous last week when I said that the Florida legislature's plan to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 29 was ready for the governor's signature. It had passed the Senate but had not cleared the conference committee phase. The legislature took care of that yesterday (5-3-07) and Governor Crist has indicated that he will sign the bill.

And so the standoff begins. The national parties say that state delegations to the nominating conventions will be penalized for scheduling their primaries before the designated window. The Democrats are even attempting to sanction candidates who campaign in offending states. Proponents of the move within Florida's legislature--and some of this came out of Tallahassee yesterday--argue that those rules will eventually be suspended, especially for an electorally important state like Florida. Time will tell whether the national party rules for this cycle have teeth.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Add Tennessee and Subtract Kansas

Tennessee's plan (HB 2211) to inch up a week from February 12 to February 5, was signed into law by Governor Bresden on April 30. Here and here are the only current accounts of the move.

In Kansas, the dust has yet to fully settle on the proceedings of this last few days. As I pointed out yesterday and late last week, Kansas had moved from out to in to potentially out again in a matter of days. The plans (S310 and S320) to establish a primary or to have an early primary seemed dead once the regular session of the legislature finished with no further action. The plan was revived during the legislative wrap up session with an amendment attached by Rep. Tom Sawyer to a Senate appropriations bill. That House substituted version passed the House but failed to make it through a budget conference committee on April 30. Here and here are a couple of summaries of the final legislative action. Though this has not been mentioned yet in any source I have come across, the caucuses that Kansas' Democrats and Republicans will have to fall back on have not set their dates for 2008.

Rhode Island Plan Passes First Test

The Senate of the Rhode Island General Assembly yesterday passed by a vote of 29-6 a plan (S 740) to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5. Though Rhode Island has held its presidential primary on the first Tuesday in March for the last several cycles, this plan calls for the primary to be moved from March 18, 2008 (the third Tuesday in March) to the February 5 date twenty plus states have moved to or are considering moving to. This plan now moves to the House side where a similar plan (H 5636) was introduced in February but has since been stuck in the Judiciary Committee.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Maryland's In, Montana's Out and Kansas is in Limbo

As I discussed in my post last week, both the Senate (SB 1025) and House (HB 1434) plans to move Maryland's 2008 presidential primary to February 12 had passed both chambers. Little else was clear however. A check today though revealed that the Senate bill was signed into law by Governor O'Malley on April 24. This is documented in the link to the bill above, but is not verified through the press releases posted on the governor's website. At this point, it looks as though Maryland has joined Virginia for a mini-regional primary the week after the February 5 smörgåsbord.

Futher west, the plan (HB 797) to give the Montana secretary of state the authority to set the date of the 2008 presidential primary some time in February or March died on the Senate side. After passing the House, the plan was transmitted to the Senate and referred to the State Administration Committee where several hearings were scheduled and canceled. The bill was deemed dead in the committee on April 27.

Things are a bit more muddled in Kansas. Last week the House passed a substituted appropriations bill (SB 357) that included language requiring the secretary of state to certify to the governor and legislative leaders before November 1 of this year that the state would not only hold a 2008 presidential primary but that it would be held on February 2. Here's the rub though: The bill's history indicates that the bill has been passed around both chambers subsequently, yet the link above is still to the House substituted version. Several of those actions taken since last week took place today (May 2), so an update is warranted once the legislature's website is updated with an altered (potentially) bill.

In the other states likely to move, nothing new has occurred.

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.