Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Illinois in 2012

Yesterday we took a glance at the prospects for presidential primary change in 2012 in Oklahoma. Today FHQ shifts the focus northward to the newly inaugurated president's home state of Illinois. While the Sooner state has a new bill before its legislature to place more of the financial burden of the conducting the state's presidential primary to the parties, Illinois is taking the Arkansas approach (potentially moving to a later date) but for different reasons. The experiment in Arkansas was one in which the presidential primary was not only moved but split off from the Natural state's primaries for state and local offices. Illinois opted instead to move its all-everything primary from mid-March to the first week in February in 2008. That made for an extremely early congressional primary (and lengthy general election campaign).

But State Senator Dale Rissinger has introduced legislation to move everything the primaries for state and local offices back in 2012 (SB46). No, not back into March as in 2004, but all the way back to June at the end of the process. In Arkansas the frontloading move was a failure both financially and from an influence standpoint, but in Illinois, the delegate boost the state legislature foresaw the state's primary potentially handing its native son actually came to pass. Obama needed those delegates on Super Tuesday to stay even with the delegate advantages Hillary Clinton was getting in places like New York and California during the onslaught of delegate selection events on February 5.

[Editor's note: The following was a hypothetical scenario analysis included when it looked as if this bill included the presidential primary in the move to June as well. This bill however, simply moves the primaries for state and local offices while leaving the presidential primary in February.]

And it is interesting that Republicans on the state legislative level are pushing these plans forward. In Arkansas there doesn't appear to be any ulterior motive, but in Illinois [It is Illinois after all.] a scenario can be envisioned where a vulnerable President Obama gets a primary challenge and doesn't have a home state to lean on with it falling at the tail end of primary season. [Consider, for example, President Carter's administration in the lead up to 1980 persuading Georgia and Alabama to move up to where Florida was in 1976 to counteract the likely boost Ted Kennedy would have gotten in the northeastern primaries in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. It has happened.] Is that likely? Probably not, especially if the Democrats want to have any hope of winning a general election under such circumstances. But that's something to keep tabs on as this bill navigates the Illinois senate.

Tomorrow: New Jersey.

Recent Posts:
Inauguration Day

Oklahoma in 2012

End of Unannounced/Unintended Hiatus

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