Thursday, January 8, 2015

Arizona Bill Introduced to Again Attempt to Schedule Presidential Primary on Iowa Caucuses Date

Arizona is at it again.

Representative Phil Lovas (R-22nd -- Peoria, Glendale), just as he did two years ago, has prefiled a bill in the Arizona House to schedule the presidential primary in the Grand Canyon state on the same date as the Iowa caucuses. HB 2015, if passed and signed into law, would move the Arizona presidential primary from the first Tuesday after March 15 to whatever date the Iowa caucuses fall on.

This all sounds like a bigger deal than it really is. It sounds as if Arizona wants to break the national party rules on timing, threatening Iowa's position at the front of the presidential primary (caucuses) calendar queue. But that likely is not the case.

First of all, Lovas tried this in 2013, and it didn't go anywhere. It garnered not only a first in the West response from Nevada, but it also drew the attention of the RNC.1 When that RNC delegation came to Arizona, Lovas opted to back off the move, but also left open the possibility that he would return to it in the future. The future is now.

However, this is destined to be a case of history repeating itself. For starters, Arizona has already moved its primary back for 2016. During the 2014 state legislative session, a bill was passed and signed into law that moved the Arizona primary from the fourth Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday after March 15. That bill passed the Arizona House unanimously on its way to becoming law. Lovas voted in favor of the move. Furthermore, it should be noted that if this bill shows any signs of going anywhere, it is very likely to once again draw the ire of the Republican National Committee.2 And any envoy delegation from the RNC would likely carry the added muscle of RNC Rules Committee chairman, Bruce Ash, who also happens to be the Republican National Committeeman from Arizona.

This one appears to be an escalation of the same old calendar madness witnessed in 2008 and 2012. Lovas is not alone in his desire to see Arizona at the head of the pack, but FHQ does not think this bill will end up going much of anywhere. It is fun to consider the implications though. But we already did that two years ago.

In any event, we will start getting a better handle on the strength of this bill when the Arizona legislature convenes to kick off the 2015 session next Monday.

1 Find more on the implications of the legislative dust up between Arizona and Nevada here.

2 The DNC would likely be interested as well, but would have little sway with Lovas or others in Arizona's Republican-controlled state government.

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