Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"New rules threaten region's 2012 primary clout"

Over the weekend, Freeman Klopott penned a nice piece in the Washington Examiner on the apparent break up of the 2008 Potomoc Primary, the subregional primary the brought the primaries in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland together (see full article below). The outcome was attractive enough that the Democratic Change Commission recommended to the Rules and Bylaws Committee that the 2012 Democratic Delegate Selection Rules include some provision that would entice state to hold similar "clustered" contests. From the looks of it, the addition of extra delegates was not enough to keep the model regional primary together for the 2012 cycle. There is still time in the legislative session, but with Virginia already close to moving its primary to March and DC considering a later primary that would coincide with those for state and local offices, it doesn't necessarily look good for the Potomac Primary in 2012.

Regional primaries are difficult to coordinate across states and especially state governments and even when they are successfully managed the initial intention is rarely met. Just ask the southern participants in the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988.


New rules threaten region's 2012 primary clout
by Freeman Klopott, Washington Examiner
New presidential primary rules passed by the Democrat and Republican national committees are busting the bonds that made the 2008 "Potomac Primary" possible and threatening the Washington region's clout in 2012.

In 2008, Virginia, D.C. and Maryland all held their primaries on Feb. 12. It was just one week after "Super Tuesday," when 24 states voted on presidential candidates. But there were no clear front-runners for the party nominations following the Feb. 5 votes, and the Washington region became key for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Forming the Potomac Primary guaranteed the Washington region electoral pull.

"We'd like to have a regional primary again to help make sure we remain important to the candidates," said David Meadows, executive director of the D.C. Democratic Committee.

But "right now both parties have coordinated what they want to do with the primary calendar because things got out of hand in 2008, " said political scientist Josh Putnam, who tracks the primary calendar on his blog Frontloading HQ. "Now states with primaries scheduled for February are stuck having to change that."

On Feb. 1, Virginia broke ranks. Its Senate passed a bill to set the commonwealth's primary for March 6. If that's the final date, then under the new party rules Virginia's Republican Party will have to change its delegate apportionments from its winner-take-all model to one that distributes them based on the number of votes each candidate receives. If the party doesn't, Virginia risks losing half its delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Meanwhile, Ward 3 D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh has introduced a bill tentatively setting the District's primary for June 5. Gov. Martin O'Malley is "likely" to introduce s bill setting Maryland's primary for April 3, spokesman Shaun Adamec said.

That's the first day new party rules allow for winner-take-all states to vote and, Meadows said, "we're hoping D.C. will join Maryland."

Adamec said, "we'd like to have a regional primary again, and hope the other states join us in April."

Down in Virginia, though, "we didn't think about a regional primary," said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Winchester, who introduced the March 6 bill. "We wanted to have it on the earliest day we could."

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Anonymous said...

Does the VA bill(s) define proportional?

Josh Putnam said...

The details on delegate allocation are not codified in state law. Those decisions are left up to the state and national parties to coordinate.