Wednesday, September 2, 2015

North Carolina House Votes Not to Concur With Senate on March 15 Presidential Primary Bill

The North Carolina House on Tuesday, September 2 vote unanimously -- 104-0 -- to not concur with the Senate changes to HB 373. That bill would move the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state back into compliance with Republican National Committee delegate selection rules with a March election.

The motion to not concur was brought by North Carolina Republican National Committeeman and state Rep. David Lewis (R-53rd, Harnett).

The bill now heads to a conference committee to work out the issues between the two chambers. Meanwhile the clock is ticking down to the October 1 RNC deadline that requires state parties to have their delegate selection plans finalized.

UPDATE: 2:15pm
Gary Robertson at the Associated Press has more on the motivation behind the move to shift the discussion of HB 373 to a conference committee:
Lewis and Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, told The Associated Press lawmakers are discussing several other election changes, many of them technical and some sought by the State Board of Elections. But they also said separately that holding only one primary in March also was being examined.
There is a lot layered into such a short bill. The expenditure for a separate presidential primary election has always been present, though not a sticking point in the proceedings to this point. Democrats in the minority in both chambers of the General Assembly have favored the later and consolidated May primary date, but majority Republicans have largely ignored that issue to this point. Creating a consolidated primary but scheduling it for March would follow the lead of states like Arkansas (earlier this cycle) and Alabama (in 2011). That would reduce the state and county spending on elections, but have ramifications elsewhere. Filing deadlines, for example would have to shift likely into December (from February) if they are to maintain the same filing window.

Bear in mind also, that this bill currently changes not only the date of the North Carolina presidential primary, but also resets the baseline method of delegate allocation in the state. To this point, state law has required a proportional allocation of national convention delegates. HB 373, however, switches that to a winner-take-all requirement. The only relief state parties have from that mandate is if that winner-take-all requirement is inconsistent with national party rules. North Carolina Democrats would then be able to adopt alternate proportional allocation rules in line with DNC requirements.

A winner-take-all allocation for North Carolina Republicans, on the other hand, would be consistent with RNC rules, but would seemingly conflict with the proportional state party rules (re)adopted at the state convention earlier this year. The proposed change in HB 373 does not include an exemption if the state law and state party allocation rules are mismatched. Yet, the RNC rules give precedence to the state party rules if such a conflict exists.

[NOTE: FHQ just spoke with Gary Robertson at AP and he said that Rep. Lewis in his comments to the press after the House vote did not bring up the allocation provision as one that required any further ironing out in HB 373. But it was not a matter that was asked about either.]

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: