Showing posts with label budget constraints. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budget constraints. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Funding for the Idaho Presidential Primary "Slipped Through the Cracks"

Just when it looked like both Idaho parties would use the presidential primary election in 2020...

...came this news from Betsy Z. Russell at the Idaho Press:
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney forgot to budget for the 2020 presidential primary, creating an unpleasant $2 million surprise for legislative budget writers who set his office’s budget on Wednesday. 
The Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee had already set all but 4 percent of the state’s general fund budget for next year, working through it agency by agency over the past month, when Denney’s came up with a $2 million hole in it.
This is atypical. Usually if there is a funding issue with a presidential primary, it something that is initiated by the secretary of state or state legislature to save funds in a given state. Washington state, for example canceled its presidential primary during the 2012 cycle to cut back on expenditures and states like Alabama, California and New Jersey consolidated separate presidential primaries in the same cycle with the same intent.

But forgetting the appropriation entirely is a different matter. That is a new one to FHQ. But in Secretary Denney's defense, he is right that the appropriation for the 2016 primary was included in a parallel bill to the legislation to reestablish the presidential primary in the Gem state and not in the funding package. If one starts a new legislative year with the items in the appropriation package the session before, then something funded outside the main appropriations bill can potentially get lost in the shuffle.


What is at least somewhat noteworthy about all of this is that Idaho Democrats came to the conclusion last summer to utilize the primary in lieu of caucuses during the 2020 cycle and have already made plans -- via their draft delegate selection plan -- to do just that.

This will likely get worked out, but it is not a snafu that is all that common.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Louisiana Legislature Passes Budget on to Jindal, Presidential Primary Funding Included

On the final day of the 2015 legislative session, Louisiana state legislators pushed through a package of bills to fund the government in the Pelican state for fiscal year 2015-16. The foundation of that budget includes funding for the 2016 presidential primary in the state, money that was not initially included in Governor Bobby Jindal's (R) original proposal to the legislature in March.

The governor is expected to sign the legislation. That keeps the Louisiana presidential primary on Saturday, March 5 next year. Democrats in the state are already slated to utilize the primary allocating delegates to the national convention, but Pelican state Republicans have in the past used both the primary and caucuses for allocating their delegates. That March 5 date will have Louisiana Democrats sharing calendar space with caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska. Louisiana Republicans, on the other hand, will have the date to themselves, a bridge between the SEC primary on March 1 and the primary in neighboring Mississippi on March 8.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Amended Louisiana House Budget Would Fund Presidential Primary

Back in March when Governor Bobby Jindal (R) unveiled his budget proposal for the 2015-16 fiscal year, it quickly became clear that there was not enough money appropriated to fund the 2016 presidential primary in Louisiana. This led to subsequent speculative discussions about whether Louisiana caucuses would be more favorable to a potential Jindal run for the Republican nomination and whether a possible November primary (consolidated with the 2015 runoff elections).

Speculation aside, the no-primary scare may have passed. An amended version of the budget -- now in the Louisiana House -- would set aside more than $3.3 million for the presidential primary next year. HB 1, the budget bill, has been engrossed and will this next week have a third reading vote.

Louisiana is currently slated to hold a Saturday, March 5 primary pending funding in this budget passing and being signed by Governor Jindal.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A November 2015 Presidential Primary in Louisiana?

A month ago FHQ discussed the state of play in Louisiana after it became clear that no money had been included in the governor's budget proposal for any elections after December 2015 (during the 2015-16 fiscal year). That would mean no funds for the March 5 presidential primary in the Pelican state. At the time, FHQ suggested that it was likely that Louisiana Republicans would simply move all of its delegate allocation/selection into the caucuses/convention process that it has used for the last several cycles to allocate at least some of its delegates to the national convention.

Now, however, there is a different idea floating around to circumvent the budgetary shortfall. Former Louisiana Secretary of State Jim Brown has suggested combining the presidential primary with the November 31 gubernatorial runoff election:
Finding it [funds for the presidential primary] could be tough. Brown's idea is to stage the Louisiana primary on the cheap; combining it with the gubernatorial run-off, November 31st. 
“Be the first in all of America to hold a primary,” Brown told KTBS, “get massive national attention and it wouldn't cost us one penny.” 
Brown said several lawmakers have approached him about his idea.
Consolidating elections as a means of saving money is nothing new. Such maneuvering was common in 2012 as separate presidential primaries were eliminated from New Jersey to Arkansas to California. But in all of those cases, the consolidation process meant moving to a later date on the primary calendar. This Louisiana proposal -- and folks, it is very definitely at the idea stage -- would entail moving forward/earlier and, in fact, into another calendar year.

Obviously, Louisiana scheduling a presidential primary in late November would be a violation of both national parties' delegate selection rules. And expect Louisiana legislators to get an earful from the national parties either directly or indirectly should they decide to move forward with this idea. But if were to move forward in bill form and become law, that could push the carve-out states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- into early November of this year.

Just don't count on that happening.

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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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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Budget Concerns May Affect Massachusetts Presidential Primary, 2016 Edition

Does Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin (D) make some variation of this claim every four years?

The budget proposal from Governor Charlie Baker's (R) office is out and the cutbacks to elections administration have the Bay state's chief elections official, Galvin, doing what he did in 2011. Namely, he is arguing that smaller appropriations for elections in Massachusetts puts the first Tuesday in March presidential primary called for in state law first in line at the chopping block. Furthermore, he has suggested -- just as he did four years ago before a similar legislative hearing -- that the parties in the state consider state party-funded caucuses in lieu of a state-funded presidential primary.

Is this a boy who cried wolf situation or one where the difference in party identification of the governor now (Republican) versus then (Democratic) might matter?

UPDATE: Quotes from Secretary Galvin:
Via the Boston Globe“This country is scheduled to elect a new president next year. Apparently the governor only wants 49 states to vote, he doesn’t want this one.”

Via WWLP: “I simply cannot run a credible election with those kind of numbers,” he said. 

Galvin acknowledged there are alternatives, such as a caucus or calling for parties to pay for the primary, as some states have done. 

“If this were to be the final appropriation, I would suggest to you we cannot afford to have a presidential primary next year on March 1,” Galvin said.

But as Joshua Miller at the Globe said:
Budget season is always filled with leaders of many parts of state government loudly proclaiming doom, part of a strategy to encourage lawmakers to increase their funding.

Boy who cried wolf?

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Myth #2: Budgetary Constraints Have Driven 2012 Presidential Primary Movement

Following up on FHQ's takedown of the misinterpretation of the altered Republican National Committee rules on 2012 delegate selection, we wanted to address one other aspect of the primary calendar that has been repeatedly exaggerated in the news throughout 2011. Much has been made of how much states are struggling economically, and this has in some cases extended to discussions of the scheduling of presidential primaries for next year.

This came up early in 2011 when the Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin raised the specter of the Bay state not having enough money for its Elections Division to conduct elections -- presidential primary elections included -- in 2012. A bill was later introduced to consolidate the March presidential primary and the September primaries for state and local office in June in order to save money and comply with the federal MOVE act. That perfect storm, as FHQ called it, of factors could potentially have tempted states with early presidential primaries and and non-compliant -- with the MOVE act -- fall primaries for state and local offices to consolidate them. The only problem was that the Massachusetts bill got stuck in committee and no other late fall, and thus non-compliant, primary states made any effort toward moves similar to that in the Bay state.

Meanwhile, other state legislatures began seeing the introduction of bills to consolidate separate and early presidential primaries with later but MOVE act-compliant compliant state and local primaries. States like California and New Jersey with newly created separate presidential primaries for 2008 opted to hold their presidential delegate selection concurrent with June state and local primaires.1 The Alabama legislature opted to move its separate presidential primary from February to March and shifted its June state and local primaries up to that point as well. Those bills had clear budgetary components.

And though they had budgetary implications, the efforts to cancel primaries in Kansas, Washington and Utah were less about that than about funding a little-used or less traditional primary election in the first place. Kansas has not held a presidential primary since 1992, so there are other factors involved in the Sunflower state. In Washington, the caucus system has been the preferred mode of delegate allocation in presidential nomination races over the years. The Washington Republican Party used the primary as a means of allocating 49% of its delegates in 2008, but the Democrats used the caucuses completely with a meaningless, beauty contest primary. Similarly, in Utah the tradition has been to use the caucus system. The state legislature instituted a Western States Presidential Primary for the 2004 cycle; something that only lasted, like the separate presidential primaries in California and New Jersey, for a brief period.

There are stories in each state, but the fact of the matter is that the above six states are the only ones where budgetary constraints played any direct role in the scheduling of the states' delegate selection events for the 2012 cycle. However, there have been primary/caucus moves in 27 states plus the District of Columbia thus far in 2011. Only six of those 28 states representing 21% of the moves thus far can be explained by state-level budgets.

Good or bad? Well, let's look at this from another angle. If we divide states into those that stayed ahead of the April 1 winner-take-all barrier constructed under the RNC delegate selection rules we end up with two groups of state moves:2

[Click to Enlarge]

The states in red are states that moved into slots in March or before while the blue states are those that shifted to new dates after March for 2012 relative to the 2008 date. It is no coincidence that the states are color coded as they are. States that moved back from non-compliant February or earlier dates in 2008 to dates in March in 2012 were states motivated to have an impact on the Republican nomination in 2012 with a primary scheduled on or around the earliest date allowed by the national party rules. In other words, the expectation is that these states would be mostly Republican or Republican-controlled states. With the exceptions of the Minnesota, Maine and Utah Democratic Parties' decisions to hold March caucuses, the remaining March states are all Republican-controlled.3 Seven of the ten March contests were dictated by Republicans.

What about the blue states? Are they actually Democratic blue or as Democratic blue as the red states were Republican red? This can be misleading because the Democratic caucus states -- with the exception of Utah above -- opted for contests in April or later. That is a list that includes Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Michigan. Of the remaining ten primary states -- including DC -- only Ohio is under unified Republican control. The party also controls the New Jersey governor's mansion and the New York Senate, but the state governments are otherwise controlled by the Democrats. Even if New Jersey and New York are not added to the tally, seven of the ten states are Democratic-controlled and thus less bound by the rules as usual.4

Moving to the front of the primary calendar is less urgent for a party without a contested nomination race. Typically is has been unusual for a party outside of the White House to tweak its rules and delegate selection at the national or state level (Klinkner 1994). However, with both national parties agreeing on a basic framework for the calendar -- that all non-exempt states begin holding primaries and caucuses on or after the first Tuesday in March -- February primary states both Republican and Democratic were faced with having to change the dates of their contests. Democratic states, since they were required to move anyway, opted to move to later dates that would yield them additional delegates to the convention.

Budgets may have had an impact on the scheduling of 2012 primaries and caucuses, something that has rarely been a factor driving frontloading in the past. Yet, it appears that the better explanatory factor driving primary movement in 2012 is more partisan than budgetary in nature. Did budgets play a role? Yes, but it was far less a role than other factors. Primarily, this has been a partisan phenomenon.

1 New Jersey has yet to enact its primary consolidation bill into law. It has passed the legislature but awaits Governor Chris Christie's signature. For this exercise, FHQ will count New Jersey as having moved.

2 FHQ put this map together for a talk I gave at the University of Georgia at the end of July.

3 The Virginia Senate is narrowly controlled by state Democrats, but the bills that passed the legislature were Republican-sponsored and supported by the Democrats.

4 With those two included, 90% of the states with new post-March dates are Democratic or mostly Democratic-controlled. And with the nine Democratic caucus states included the numbers are even more tilted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

California Senate Passes June Presidential Primary Bill

Tory Van Oot at Capitol Watch has reported that the California Senate today passed AB 80 by a 34-3 vote. The bill would eliminate the separate February presidential primary and consolidate it with the primaries for state and local offices on the first Tuesday in June. The cash-strapped Golden state would save almost $100 million from the move.

Assuming the Senate made no changes to the bill on the floor, AB 80 has now cleared the legislative hurdle and will head to Governor Jerry Brown (D) for his consideration.

Friday, June 10, 2011

California Senate Committee Unanimously Passes June Primary Bill

During a Wednesday, June 8 hearing, the California state Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee voted unanimously to recommend AB 80 for passage before the full chamber. The legislation would shift the date of the California presidential primary from the first Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in June; eliminating the separate presidential primary election and consolidating it with primaries for state and local offices.

To this point AB 80 has received full bipartisan support on both the committee and floor levels in the Assembly and now in committee in the Senate. However, it is unclear as to whether the bipartisanship will continue as the bill approaches its likely final legislative hurdle. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dutton (R-31st, Rancho Cucamonga), earlier in the session, was quite vocal about the late primary within the context of the budget discussions. But that talk has dissipated of late. Any opposition will emerge soon enough, but will only be token at best -- especially if only from Republicans -- in the Democratic-controlled upper chamber.

A doff of the cap to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News for passing the news along.

Monday, April 11, 2011

California Primary Bill to Move Primary to June Unanimously Passes Assembly

On April 11, AB 80 came up for a third reading and vote before the California Assembly. Given the recent discussions over the Golden state's budget within the last few weeks and the list of counter demands from Republican legislators -- including moving the presidential primary to March instead of June -- it is mildly surprising that the bill passed 68-0 with full bipartisan support. The state stands to save $100 million if the legislation, which now goes on to the state Senate, passes the Senate and is signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. But the Senate is where outspoken critic of the potential move, Minority Leader Robert Dutton (R-31st, Rancho Cucamonga), and his caucus will likely represent more resistance than was seen in the Assembly's consideration of the bill.

Though the benefits of the bill's savings are being touted, the partisan explanation, as in the case in the proposed moves in Democratic-controlled states like Maryland and Washington DC, is the main driver behind the legislation. The savings are just a byproduct of that move. Similar moves in legislation in other states -- Republican states -- while being introduced, have been largely unsuccessful to this point in the legislative cycle. March is becoming the likely destination for Republican-controlled states while Democratic-controlled states with exceptions are opting for April and later primary and caucus dates.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

California GOP, Budget and the 2012 Presidential Primary

Much is being made of the apparent discontent within the California Republican Party over proposed and Democratic-backed legislation to move the Golden state's presidential primary back to June. It started with talk coming out of the Republican convention in the state the weekend before last and has continued in the time since. For the record FHQ is not particularly swayed by either side of the argument over the timing of the presidential primary -- either political or budgetary -- in California next year.

Democrats have the luxury of not only having unified control over the state government, but because of that can also afford to save money combining the presidential primary with the primaries for state and local offices already scheduled for the first Tuesday in June. Republicans in the state are just out of luck. It doesn't seem entirely political, but the move to coordinate the two sets of primaries and save money in the process seems more like a means to an end. Yet, former California GOP chairman, Rob Nehring, is absolutely right that if the national Democrats had a contested nomination race in 2012, California Democrats would not be making this move to June. Instead, they would presumably be doing what California Republicans and the national parties want them to do: moving the primary back into compliance with a first Tuesday in March separate presidential primary. And would assuming Democratic control of the state and a competitive nomination race in 2016 make some effort to put California's primary back into the window of decisiveness.

What I think is being lost in all of this discussion is that we do and don't have an official Republican response to the Assembly bill (AB 80) that proposes the change to the presidential primary date. Sure, state Republicans have made their demands -- among them a March presidential primary -- but we have yet to see that plan manifest itself in the form of legislation. Well, we have, but most just don't know it yet. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dutton (R-31st, Rancho Cucamonga) just beat the deadline to introduce legislation last month when he introduced SB 782 which makes a non-substantial change to the portion of the California statutes dealing with the timing of the presidential primary. The removal of the comma will eventually be augmented by a change in committee; likely a rescheduling of the presidential primary from February to March.

Of course, it may seem more pragmatic to suggest that that new version would call for not only a March presidential primary, but concurrent primaries for state and local offices then as well. Now, it should be noted that California moved back before it moved forward in 2008. The assembly moved the primaries -- all of them -- from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in June for 2008 back in 2004 and then created the separate, February presidential primary in 2007 when a host of other states were shifting up to February primary dates. Part of the initial move back to June was triggered by what was deemed the "utter failure" of the March primary. Low turnout in the midterm election years and an overly long general election campaign were cited as problematic. With those issues out in the open, though, concurrent primaries in March seems like the compromise position on all of this. Democrats get the budgetary savings they want and Republicans get the date they want for the presidential primary and remove the necessity of inevitably moving the date again in 2016. But what about the turnout problem and lengthy and costly general election campaigns in midterm years? Why not keep the midterm primaries in June in midterm election years and the March primary in presidential election years? Other states do this. Pennsylvania, for example, hold concurrent primaries in presidential election years in April, but has May primaries in midterm years.

That would be the pragmatic, compromise approach in California, but we'll have to see what Republicans do with SB 782 first. If Republicans push this plan and Democrats quash it, then Nehring would have a point about the move to June being political.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Budget Concerns May Affect Massachusetts Presidential Primary

UPDATE (2/27/11): Legislation is now in committee in Massachusetts to move both the presidential primary (from March) and the primaries for state and local offices (from September) to June.

One issue that continues to be raised as the 2012 presidential primary calendar evolves is one of budgetary constraints at the state level. This has manifest itself in a few ways and has become problematic in more and more states across the country as state governments wrestle over budget outlays for the coming year(s).

In Kansas and Washington, the talks have revolved around eliminating the presidential primary and shifting the cost of nominating candidates to the state parties; state parties that would, in turn, typically opt for caucuses as a means of nominating candidates over primaries. Still other states are looking at the possibility moving their separate presidential primaries to dates that coincide with later primaries for state and local offices. Some states are better able than others to pull this cost saving maneuver off. California and New Jersey, for instance, can eliminate their separate presidential primaries and move them back to the June dates on which their state and local primaries are held because the June date fits within the window of time in which the national parties allow states to hold presidential delegate selection events. California and New Jersey -- and Arkansas before them -- can do that. Florida, Massachusetts and other states with July, August and September primaries cannot. In other words, California and New Jersey have a way of cutting costs in the elections section of the budget that states like Florida and Massachusetts do not.

That fact, of course, does not in any way financially relieve that latter group of states. They still face the same budget crunch as the other states, but don't have that same cost-saving option. Florida doesn't seem to mind. Legislators there are more concerned with the state playing a role in selecting the, in 2012 at least, Republican presidential nominee. But elsewhere states are grappling with the costs of holding elections and what to do given that pressure.

The latest state to publicly deal with this is Massachusetts. There, the presidential primary is on the chopping block. In the eyes of Secretary of State Bill Galvin it is at least unless the Elections Division can convince the state legislature to add $3.5 million to its budget. Said Galvin:
“The number that was submitted by the governor despite the fact that he suggested, or his administration suggested, that it would be a 2 percent cut, in fact is a far more drastic cut. My budget will go down anyways for the coming fiscal year in the elections area because we have one fewer election in the upcoming fiscal year than we did in the last, but nevertheless, it’s a problem to run this March 6, 2012 event based upon the numbers they’ve submitted.”
As far as alternatives, Galvin suggested shifting to a state party-funded caucus system.
“I asked the legislature during my testimony yesterday on the budget to increase the line item, which I know it was a difficult thing given the circumstances of the year, or I suggested to them they could of course cancel the primary, and we could go to a caucus system.”
That is one option. But because Massachusetts has such a late date for its state and local primaries, it is subject to the MOVE act that passed Congress in 2009. The September 18, 2012 primary is just 49 days before the November 6 general election. That gives the state just four days to finalize general election nominees, print ballots and distribute them to military and overseas personnel to comply with that law. That is likely an inadequate window of time in which to complete those tasks. In other words, Massachusetts faces having to move the date on which its state and local primaries are held. The temptation, as was the case in the District of Columbia, may be to simultaneously move both the presidential primary and the primaries for state and local offices to a date that complies with both national party rules governing presidential delegate selection and the mandates required by the MOVE act.

This trend merits watching as state legislatures settle in to deal with the budgets in their respective states. It has the potential to affect the development of the presidential primary calendar and could ultimately suit the national parties' interests quite well. The more states that have to consider moving a presidential primary back to coincide with a traditional or newly timed set of primaries for state and local offices, the more likely it is that there will be fewer rogue states breaking the delegate selection rules. And the states that have been best able to move to those increasingly earlier presidential primary dates are the very same states that have very late primaries for state and local offices. Again, it merits watching.

(via WBZ Boston)
BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a possibility that Massachusetts won’t be able to participate fully in the next presidential election.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin says there’s not enough money to run a primary in March 2012, according to Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget for the next fiscal year.

“The number that was submitted by the governor despite the fact that he suggested, or his administration suggested, that it would be a 2 percent cut, in fact is a far more drastic cut. My budget will go down anyways for the coming fiscal year in the elections area because we have one fewer election in the upcoming fiscal year than we did in the last, but nevertheless, it’s a problem to run this March 6, 2012 event based upon the numbers they’ve submitted,” Galvin told WBZ.

Galvin said he offered up suggestions for alternatives to the 2012 primary elections.

“I asked the legislature during my testimony yesterday on the budget to increase the line item, which I know it was a difficult thing given the circumstances of the year, or I suggested to them they could of course cancel the primary, and we could go to a caucus system,” Galvin said.

The combination of the upcoming presidential primaries and the necessary political reorganization of the state after the 2010 Census unfortunately happened during an economic crunch.

“If I were to spend all of the money on the primary, I then wouldn’t have any money for the rest of the election department’s activities: the local elections where we supervise, but also preparing for the regular state elections and the presidential election in 2012. So, all of that has to be done,” said Galvin.

He said he hopes the elections can still go on as scheduled.

“It’s my earnest hope that the legislature will find the money to help us continue the tradition of having a voter participatory primary,” said Sec. Galvin.

Galvin said his office needs an extra $3.5 million in the budget.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Bill would return California's 2012 presidential primary to June"

The article from Mark Barabak that appeared in Sunday's LA Times covers some old ground for those who have been reading FHQ since the beginning of the year (see full article below). However, that said, he does provide a great rundown of some of the financial constraints that are facing some states in terms of the implementation of their 2012 presidential nominating contests. If the national parties are getting any assistance in their effort to push back the start time of primary season, it is the fact that states with both separate and early presidential primaries and later primaries for state and local offices (that are nonetheless still within the national parties' window) are tempted to hold both sets of primaries concurrently -- and later -- as a means of saving money.

As has been the case in the post-reform era, though, there are two types of states: those with in-window primaries for state and local offices and those with primaries that fall after the window has closed. The former group has the "luxury" in this cycle of potentially saving some money by eliminating their separate presidential primaries and moving them back in line with the other primary elections in the state. Again, that is potentially helping the national parties to get some states to comply with their delegate selection rules for 2012 (see Arkansas, California, New Jersey).

The latter group, on the other hand, faces quite a different landscape as compared to past cycles when frontloading was unfettered or at least allowed given certain parameters. As those states had already incurred the start up costs associated with the separate primary, they were much freer to float their contests -- usually to earlier dates -- than states with concurrent primaries. But those states face a dilemma in the 2012 cycle. They still have the freedom to move around (or to flaunt party rules by going earlier than is allowed), but they don't have the ability to move back and hold all their primaries at once since their primaries for state and local offices are outside of the backend of the window for presidential primaries.

Yes, those states could move their primaries for state and local offices to earlier dates as well. And we do see some momentum behind that idea (see DC). Again, the parties are benefiting from a confluence of forces. Very late primaries for state and local offices are also under attack this cycle. The MOVE act has forced or will force late primary states to move so that the primary process can be completed and ballots printed and mail to military and other voters abroad in time for the general election. This opens the door to a potential double move that could shrink some states' budget deficits. Those states with early presidential primaries and late (out-of-window) primaries for state and local offices would move both primaries to the same date that is a midpoint between the two and allows those states to kill two birds with one stone. To this point, Washington, DC is the only "state" examining this option, but as legislative sessions drag on and budget discussions continue, it is an idea that could gain some momentum.

...and reshape the 2012 presidential primary calendar in ways that have not been witnessed in the post-reform era.

Bill would return California's 2012 presidential primary to June
by Mark Z. Barabak, LA Times

For years, Sacramento lawmakers worked to give California voters a bigger say in national politics by scheduling the state's presidential primary as early as they could.

The series of moves culminated in 2008 with a Feb. 5 vote, the earliest in state history. But now a legislative effort is underway to move the California primary back where it started — to June, on the last day of the 2012 nominating season — as a way to save tens of millions of dollars. "That's a lot of money," said the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), "at a time when every penny counts."

His measure is set for its first committee hearing next month.

If the bill is passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not taken a position, California would join other cash-strapped states that have decided to forgo the added cost — and any added attention from presidential candidates and the political press corps — by ceding their early spot on the calendar.

In Washington state, officials are talking about canceling their primary, a non-binding "beauty contest" that does not determine the awarding of delegates. "Our [budget] cuts are hurting the poor, hurting kids, really damaging education," said Secretary of State Sam Reed. The estimated savings: $10 million.

Other states canceling their primaries, pushing back the date or weighing those options include Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Their moves reverse a decades-old trend of states stampeding to the front of the calendar in hopes of grabbing a bit of the attention and revenue showered on the two leadoff states, Iowa and New Hampshire. For many, including California,
that meant holding two primaries: an early one for president and a later one for other offices, boosting their costs.

The front-loading may have reached its climax in 2008, when more than 20 states — California and New York among them — voted on the single biggest day of primary balloting ever held.

"The whole idea of moving forward looked good," said Josh Putnam, a political scientist at Davidson College in North Carolina who tracks 2012 scheduling on his website, Frontloading HQ. "But then everyone had the same idea, and states ended up getting lost in the shuffle."

Hoping to introduce some order and extend the primary season, the two major parties have set rules allowing just four states to vote next February: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. States that jump the queue would be punished by losing delegates to the party's nominating conventions.

As it stands, Florida, which broke the rules to vote early in 2008, is again scheduled to hold a Jan. 31 primary, which would place it ahead of the four officially sanctioned states. If Florida doesn't budge, the balloting could move earlier into January, as Iowa and the others leap ahead to preserve their status.

Even if Florida lawmakers reschedule their vote, New Hampshire may advance its proposed Feb. 14 primary to keep a seven-day window ahead of Nevada. If that happens, it would probably push Iowa to move up into January.

With the Republican field still taking shape, it is too early to predict the consequences of all the shuffling, but experience suggests that caution should be a guide.

Given the heavy front-loading, many anticipated that the 2008 nominations would be decided no later than early February. The Republican race was, in fact, over fairly swiftly. But Democrats
Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton battled all the way to June in the longest, most contentious primary fight in generations.

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