Thursday, August 25, 2011

Secretary Kemp Mentions Setting Georgia Primary Date After Iowa and New Hampshire Are Set

Short story, potentially big message.

Christina Wright of The Macon Telegraph on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's address to the Warner Robins Rotary Club Tuesday:
This will be the first year Kemp will set the presidential primary date, after the General Assembly passed the measure this spring for him to do so. Yet, with New Hampshire and Iowa attempting to remain the first primaries of the season, dates have fluctuated. Kemp said he is waiting for those dates before putting Georgia in the mix. The Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses historically have set the pulse of the presidential elections.
Kemp has been mostly tight-lipped on the issue of the Peach state presidential primary since the Georgia General Assembly ceded its power to set the date to the secretary in legislation signed into law earlier this year. The point of the bill was to allow the state -- through the secretary of state -- the flexibility it did not have previously in setting the date of its nominating contest. There have been clues from Kemp in the time since, but not much in the way of firm specifics.

Of course there have been a couple of hints about coupling the Georgia primary with the Florida primary. What has been missing to this point, however, is any indication of Kemp's the or the Georgia Republican Party's willingness to defy the RNC delegate selection rules. The true issue isn't so much whether Georgia will defy the rules. It is more about the extent to which the state will defy the rules.

First of all, good luck waiting out Iowa and New Hampshire. The two states at the head of the queue have a better chance of holding a primary before Kemp makes a decision than Georgia actually threatening those privileged positions. I only say that partially in jest. What Kemp is demonstrating here is not necessarily a threat to Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, the secretary appears to be demonstrating at the very least a willingness to utilize every last day until the December 1 deadline by which that the newly enacted legislation requires him to set a date for the primary. If Secretary Kemp waits that long he will soon begin to limit himself. A December 1 decision only allows the secretary to set a date for January 31 at the earliest. A decision made sometime during November would theoretically put more of the month of January into play.

The way FHQ sees it, though, the secretary won't have to wait until December 1 to wait out the states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. For the most part, those states should fall in line during or around the first part of October (if not by the October 1 RNC deadline).

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