Monday, March 30, 2015

Resolution Circulating at Republican County Conventions Calling on a Later North Carolina Presidential Primary

There was a flurry of reporting on the provocative positioning of the North Carolina presidential primary both here and elsewhere at the end of February, but it has been pretty quiet on that front in the month since. Most of the reactions in February were precipitated by the op-ed North Carolina Republican Party chairman, Claude Pope, wrote urging the North Carolina General Assembly to consider legislation pushing the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state back to March 1.

A wider, national discussion of the costs and benefits of a rogue North Carolina presidential primary was not the only byproduct of that call from Chairman Pope. Local Republican parties in reaction also began considering a resolution that also urged the General Assembly to move the primary back into compliance with the national party rules.1  Those efforts, in turn, triggered a more robust discussion of the primary's position on the calendar among Republicans across the state.

The resolution (see below) has apparently garnered support in Republican organizations across the state. That is, perhaps, less important than what changes it calls on the legislature to make. Layered into this is a request that the General Assembly not only move the primary back into compliance with the national party rules, but to consider both moving the North Carolina presidential primary to a position on the calendar that allows the North Carolina Republican Party maximum latitude in choosing how to allocate its delegates to the national convention and moving the primaries for state and local offices into the same position as the presidential primary. The former means a date on or after March 15, not the March 1 date that Chairman Pope outlined. The latter means cost savings to the taxpayers of North Carolina who would not have to foot the bill for multiple primaries and runoff elections with a presidential primary separated from the remaining nomination contests.

The concurrent primaries request is a no-brainer in a state that has traditionally held all of its primaries together on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May during much of the post-reform era. But opening the door to a possible winner-take-all primary in North Carolina is of greater note. North Carolina law calls for a proportional allocation of delegates to the national convention2, but Republican National Committee rules (see Rule 16(b) here) allow state parties to create their own rules (within the parameters of the national party rules) that supersede any state law should their be a conflict. North Carolina Republicans have generally followed the state law in past presidential election cycles, so a move to a winner-take-all allocation method would break with that tradition.

No, there are not any bills currently before the North Carolina state legislature, but there is external pressure being exerted on the body to make a change to the presidential primary date. And now, it appears to be more than national pressure, direct or otherwise. There looks to be a local component adding to the intricacy of the situation as well.

1 Below is the resolution as posted on the Greater Greensboro Republican Women's Club site:
Whereas:  North Carolina 2013 election law changed the date of the North Carolina Presidential Primary from mid-May to late February;

Whereas:  Republican National Committee (RNC) rule changes of January, 2014 require that only four states, Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Nevada, be allowed to hold their presidential primaries before March 1;

Whereas:  RNC rules penalize any state holding its presidential primary prior to March 1 by drastically reducing that state’s number of allowable delegates to the National Republican Presidential Convention to no more than 12 delegates;

Whereas:  The North Carolina Republican Party will be allowed 72 delegates to the 2016 National Republican Presidential Convention if it complies with RNC rules;

Whereas:  Additionally, RNC rules dictate that states holding their presidential primary between the dates of March 1 and March 15 must allocate their delegates to the National Presidential Convention proportionally rather than having the option of proportionality versus winner-take-all allocation;

Whereas:  Previous North Carolina primaries in presidential years have been inclusive of presidential, state, and local races, rather than having a separate presidential primary and a state/local primary.

Whereas:  Creating separate dates for the North Carolina Presidential Primary and the North Carolina primary for state and local races increases the costs to the state and counties for the duplicate voting requirements.

Be it Resolved on this __th day of _____, 2015, that the _______________________:  (1)  Supports the NCGOP in selecting a presidential primary date that complies with RNC rules, and (2)  Encourages the NC General Assembly to change the North Carolina presidential primary date from one in February to one that will allow maximum Republican delegate allocation to the National Republican Presidential Convention while still giving North Carolina more influence in the selection of the Republican presidential candidate, and (3)  Encourages the NC General Assembly to specify that the primary for all NC national, state and local contests be the same date as the newly-selected NC presidential primary date, thereby eliminating the need for additional primary dates.
2 This is a function of delegate selection/allocation rules historically mandated by the Democratic Party. To comply with the rules requiring a proportional allocation of delegates, Democrats in control of the North Carolina General Assembly created the law requiring it. That law has been in place as it is currently written since 1983.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

No comments: