Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What the AP Gets Wrong About the North Carolina Presidential Primary Situation

Kudos to Gary Robertson -- the AP's Raleigh reporter -- for touching base with FHQ on this. They have revised the article cited below.

Let's take a moment to fact check one bit of background information that found its way into an Associated Press news blurb about the North Carolina state House Elections Committee considering legislation to change the date of the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state.
A state law passed in 2013 moved the primary from May to February. National Republicans have since told states not to hold primaries in February to avoid interfering with primary contests in four traditionally early states, including South Carolina. [Emphasis FHQ's]
I'm sorry, but this is misleading. Yes, the Republican National Committee has certainly been telling North Carolina and any other state that February is a period on the presidential primary that is reserved for the four carve-out states; Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. But the implication is that there is a timeline here. North Carolina provocatively moved its primary to a non-compliant position on the 2016 presidential primary calendar and the RNC reacted.

That is true. However, it leaves off one very important part of the timeline: That the RNC had rules and penalties with regard to state behavior for the 2016 presidential nomination cycle in place coming out of the August 2012 national convention in Tampa. North Carolina legislators acted in 2013 despite that or blissfully ignorant of those penalties.

This is not the first instance in which this has come up. FHQ has addressed this before:
Rucho mentions in Wollner's piece that the RNC created an arbitrary rule -- the super penalty -- after the North Carolina primary law was changed. However arbitrary that rule may or may not be, it was in place before the North Carolina presidential primary law was altered in 2013, anchoring the contest to South Carolina's. The late Bob Bennett, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, devised the more severe penalty -- often called the Bennett Rule in RNC circles -- and saw it passed with the rules package for 2016 at the Tampa convention in 2012. That clearly precedes the late addition of the presidential primary amendment to the 2013 omnibus elections bill that passed through the General Assembly in the waning moments of a special session. The potential run-in with the Bennett Rule/super penalty was something that FHQ raised immediately upon hearing that the North Carolina primary could change positions in July 2013.
The AP seems to have bought the contention from North Carolina state Senator Bob Rucho (R-39th, Mecklenburg) that the RNC created the penalties after North Carolina moved its primary. That is false. The penalties were in place prior to the action from the North Carolina General Assembly. The AP should report that.

...or at least make clearer that North Carolina acted in 2013 in defiance of RNC rules for 2016 that were already in place.

That is kind of an important part of this discussion.

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