Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Louisiana May Not Have a 2016 Presidential Primary

According to Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler (R), Louisiana will not hold a presidential primary in 2016. Here's Schedler from Mark Ballard at The Advocate:
“I want to have a presidential preference primary as long as you pay for it,” Schedler told the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee during the panel’s department-by-department tour of Jindal’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. 
“He hasn’t funded elections past December,” Schedler said about Jindal.  A presidential preference primary would be held in the Spring 2016 and would cost about $3.5 million.
This may or may not be a situation similar to the one in Massachusetts. The battle lines, if one wants to call them that, are the same: governor (and elections budget) and secretary of state (with a bottom line amount/expense for elections). The difference in Louisiana are a threefold:

1. In this case, the governor (Bobby Jindal) and the secretary of state are of the same party, the Republican Party.

2. The Louisiana situation is such that there is no money for any elections beyond December. Any elections expense beyond that point and up to the end of the fiscal year in June cannot be funded. Louisiana does have gubernatorial and state legislative elections later this year. In Massachusetts, the presidential primary is seemingly the lowest priority election for 2016 and thus expendable. A similar priority list may be driving the secretary of state's statements today.

3. Louisiana Republicans already utilize a two-tiered delegate selection/allocation process. In 2012, there were both a primary and caucuses. The caucuses allocated just under 40% of the total Louisiana delegation. While Massachusetts Republicans also have caucuses, that process has only guided the delegate selection part of the process; identifying the people who will fill the delegate slots allocated to candidates based on the primary results. The transition to primary/caucuses to caucuses may be smoother than a transition from one to the other. Those congressional district caucuses/conventions were in April in 2012.

One final thing to consider is that Massachusetts Secretary of State Galvin made the same claims in 2011 that he made just last week. Yet, there was still a presidential primary on the first Tuesday in March 2012. There is no such history in Louisiana.

The primary may not be able to be funded or the state government might find a way to pull it off. But will legislators be motivated to go on that quest for funds if they know a caucuses/convention process is already in place?

Currently, Louisiana is slated to conduct a presidential primary on the first Saturday in March, the Saturday just after the proposed SEC primary on March 1.

UPDATE: More from Greg Hilburn at The News Star (Gannett).

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