Showing posts with label canceling primaries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canceling primaries. Show all posts

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Arizona Bill Would End Presidential Primary

Earlier this month, legislation was introduced in the Arizona Senate to eliminate the presidential preference election -- the presidential primary in the Grand Canyon state -- and replace it with caucuses run by the state parties. 

SB 1668, introduced by state Sen. Martin Quezada (D-29th, Phoenix), would not only shift the state's delegate allocation method from a primary to caucuses, but it would also cede some state authority over that process with one exception. The resulting caucuses would under the new law also have to be opened to independent and unaffiliated voters. 

Now, this legislation is interesting for a few reasons. First, Quezada is not only a Democrat but among the Democratic leadership in the state Senate. That is not unusual in and of itself, but as has been noted in this space over the last four or five years, the wind is not necessarily at Quezada's back on this issue within the broader Democratic Party coalition. Sure, allowing independents and unaffiliateds into the caucus process conforms to some of what the national party has advocated for (increased participation), but shifting away from a state-run presidential primary election does not. That that message has not made it into the thinking of the legislative leadership in Arizona is noteworthy, but not surprising in view of past legislative actions regarding presidential primaries. 

Moreover, the primary to caucus shift is atypical among Democrats. It does happen. And it tends to in Democratic-controlled states with presidential primaries in cycles in which a Democratic incumbent president is seeking renomination. The upcoming 2024 cycle may meet those conditions to some degree. But that does not change the fact that this has been a maneuver seen and/or attempted more on the Republican side for a variety of reasons. Yes, there were the cancelled primaries and caucuses for the 2020 cycle when it was Trump up for renomination, but it goes beyond that. Efforts like those in Oklahoma in 2009 or Missouri's currently have been Republican driven over the last decade or more.

And at least part of the reason why is budgetary in nature. A state can pass the expenditure for a delegate selection event on to the state parties by eliminating a presidential primary. In fact, that is the main explanation for why states nix primaries in years in which an incumbent presidential is running unopposed for renomination. Why unnecessarily shell out millions of dollars for a presidential primary when the money is going to a contest with no competition? That is what Washington Democrats did in 2012, for example.

Yet, there is a new spin on this financial bottom line angle. In response to the Missouri bill attempting to eliminate the presidential primary in the Show-Me state, FHQ received an email from a reader there. At least part of the impetus behind the Missouri legislation was the fact that Republicans in the state still had caucuses in 2020 to select delegates to the national convention. If that process is going to exist, then why not allocate delegates through that process and remove that presidential primary line from the state budget? It has the effect of shrinking the pool of participants in the process. 

Now, FHQ will not go so far as to say that cost savings are the motivating factor behind this Arizona bill, but it would be a byproduct of the move if that legislation becomes law. But as we said with the Missouri bill, primary bills are not often successful in years immediately after presidential election years. Moves to cancel primaries in that window are even more rare. 

A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Missouri House Bill Would Eliminate Presidential Primary

A bill filed earlier this month in the Missouri House of Representatives would repeal the requirement to conduct a presidential primary in the Show-Me state. 

First term Representative Adam Schwadron (R-106th, St. Charles) on January 6 introduced HB 680. The legislation would strip out two separate sections of Missouri election law referring to the scheduling and conduct of a presidential preference primary election, thus eliminating the contest in future cycles. 

While there were a spate of Republican state parties that in 2019 canceled presidential primaries (or caucuses) in order to conduct precinct caucuses instead, those actions are more common than a 2024 cancelation in Missouri would be. What prompted state parties in Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina to make those moves was that President Trump was running virtually unopposed for the Republican nomination. On the one hand, the maneuvering was viewed as a means of protecting the president. However, none of the prospective competition to Trump was ever really viable in a party that continued to overwhelmingly back the president. Through that lens, the actions were fairly normal for parties with incumbents seeking renomination largely unopposed. Often it is merely a cost-savings change. 

But Schwadron's bill in Missouri does not fit that trend. Missouri has shifted in the 21st century from general election bellwether to reliably red state for Republican candidates. And canceling -- or potentially canceling -- a presidential primary breaks 1) with a trend toward more presidential primaries in the post-reform era and 2) with a trend that only sees contrary movement on that front during uncontested cycles. 2024 is not shaping up to be an uncontested cycle on the Republican side. 

...unless former President Trump jumps into the race and is able to simultaneously ward off any viable competition. [Alternatively, this could be a means through which to aid a presidential bid from favorite son, Sen. Josh Hawley (R) should he opt to run and make it to the point on the calendar when hypothetical Missouri caucuses are held. see Rand Paul and Kentucky in 2015. That plan did not work.] Even then, this would be an atypical move by a Republican legislator much less in an early-ish Republican primary state. 

A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Appeal Denied. New York Democratic Presidential Primary Set for June 23

The US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, May 19 upheld a lower court ruling from earlier in the month reinstating the canceled New York Democratic presidential primary.

The state of New York had appealed the district court decision to reverse the New York State Board of Elections action canceling the primary under a new law that allowed the Board to remove candidates no longer in the race. Following the 2nd circuit ruling, the state will not appeal any further.

And that officially slates the New York Democratic presidential primary for June 23, a date just five weeks away.

Candidates both for president and district delegate had already filed for the April 28 primary ballot, so none of the state government nor judicial decisions have had any demonstrable impact on the filing process. Nor does the decision today affect the selection process for those district delegates. They will continue to be elected directly from the primary ballot. However, the date of the state convention and the selection of statewide -- at-large and PLEO -- delegates has been affected in the move to June. The State Democratic Committee will now select those delegates -- based on the statewide results of the primary -- at the late July state convention.

And two other factors will affect the administration of the election. First, the delay in finalizing the date of the New York primary did no favors to the State Board of Elections. Sure, the Board held that up with the appeal, but it also delayed finalizing the ballot for the primary election itself. And under the federal UOCAVA law, ballots are to go out to military and other personnel overseas 45 days before any election. There are workarounds for that -- counting the ballots when they come in, for example -- but a delay is a delay and can influence the implementation of election law.

Additionally, Governor Cuomo's April 24 executive order to provide absentee ballot applications (with a postage paid return option) to all eligible New York voters for the primary must be rolled out in the 35 day window remaining. The details of that process will have to be finalized as well, particularly the return of the completed ballots and whether that is mail-only for voters or if they can physically drop them off with election administrators.

One other matter to note is that the New York Democratic Party has amended its delegate selection plan to reflect not only the date change for the primary, but the allocation of delegates. Now, this point is moot at this time given that the primary is back on, but the language of Part 2, Section A of the delegate selection plan lays out the conditions under which the process would operate if the primary were canceled. Originally (and traditionally), the plan has called for all of the delegates to be allocated to the one candidate who has qualified for the primary ballot. That remains the case, but with a slight tweak. As a rider on that provision another is included: "or at the discretion of such Candidate." That addition was seemingly made in response to the deal struck between the Biden and Sanders campaigns to not only allow Sanders to keep his statewide delegates but to get a share of New York delegates if the primary ultimately ended up canceled. It is not and thus that provision is unnecessary. Still, there was a notable change to the language of the rules.

Related Posts:
On-Again, Off-Again New York Democratic Presidential Primary is Back on Again

Cuomo Executive Order Confirms New York Presidential Primary Will Move to June 23

New York State Legislature Begins Working on Alternatives to April 28 Presidential Primary

Friday, May 8, 2020

On-Again, Off-Again New York Democratic Presidential Primary is Back on Again

The late April New York State Board of Elections decision to cancel the Democratic presidential primary in the Empire state met some judicial resistance on Tuesday, May 5.

In a federal case brought by former Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, and some of those who filed to run as delegates aligned with him on the New York primary ballot, the aim was to reinstate candidates and delegates pushed off the ballot last month. It was that action -- the removal of  suspended candidates from the ballot -- that was the predicate to the state board's decision regarding the primary cancelation.

But the groundwork for that maneuver was laid in the budget agreed to by the state legislature and Governor Cuomo (D). Under traditional New York state election law, the State Board of Elections has the ability to cancel a primary if only one candidate qualifies, rendering the election uncontested and superfluous. That obviously was not the case in the 2020 Democratic nomination race. Although the bar to qualify for the New York presidential primary ballot is high, Vice President Joe Biden was not the only candidate to make the ballot.

However, Biden was the only candidate who had not suspended his campaign by the time the budget deal was being finalized. And while other candidates were still technically on the ballot, all had suspended their campaigns and most had endorsed Biden. And language was inserted in the budget bill to provide the state board with an additional tool given that contingency. The board was empowered with the ability to remove candidates from the primary ballot if they were no longer actively running for the nomination. That, in turn, triggered the "only one candidate" provision that has been a part of New York election law for years.

But again, candidates, both presidential and district delegate, had qualified for the original April ballot before the primary was shifted to June 23. And when the primary was canceled in late April, that drew the ire of the newly suspended Sanders campaign and the aforementioned Yang case.

So, on the one hand, one has the argument that the cancelation suppresses the vote not only in the presidential race in New York, but in all the down ballot races in parts of the Empire state that are still on for June 23. On the other is a state government attempting to manage the public health concerns around in-person voting and the coronavirus pandemic and possible budgetary savings from scaling that primary back that would help diminished state coffers in the face of the virus.1

Now that federal judge, Analisa Torres, has issued an injunction and the June 23 Democratic presidential primary is back on, it means that elections officials in the state have lost a week of preparation with fewer than 50 days until the election. And throw on top of that a likely appeal of the decision from the state. Much of this creates more uncertainty that cuts into the time to get the ballots ready and printed and applications for absentee ballots out to eligible voters (much less returned, processed and actual ballots mailed out as well). That is a heavy lift even without considering any issues with recruiting poll workers, training them for new conditions and getting them comfortable with showing up to administer the election.

But push the state government implementation issues aside for a moment. There still is no answer to how the New York Democratic Party is or has responded to the primary back and forth. Should the presidential primary now go off as planned under the original delegate selection plan and the new court injunction, then the revisions the state party will have to make to the plan will be minimal.

However, there was no alternate scenario publicly shared on how the party would allocate delegates should there be no primary. Under the current plan, the party allocates all of the delegates to the candidate in an uncontested primary. But that rule hinges on (and cites) the traditional New York state election law that cancels a primary if only one candidate qualifies for the ballot. There is no contingency in the rule in the delegate selection plan that accounts for the new law, the law that eliminates candidates from the ballot who are no longer running.

A change has to be made there if the primary is canceled again under appeal.

But that is not the only change under the cancelation contingency. There also likely has to be something written into the plan -- the revisions of which will have to be reviewed and approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) -- to account for the deal struck between the Biden campaign and the suspended Sanders campaign. Yes, that deal allowed Sanders to keep his statewide delegates instead of having them reallocated, but it also included a provision about the New York process in the event that there was no primary. That deal says Sanders will get some share of the delegates in the Empire state. But how that process is conducted, who is doing the selecting (especially with district delegates no longer directly elected on the primary ballot) and how to determine Sanders's share remain open questions that likely have to be dealt with in any changes the New York Democratic Party hypothetically makes to its delegate selection plan before it submits it to the DNCRBC.

In the end, there is some uncertainty that surrounds the delegate selection process in New York while Judge Torres's decision is appealed. But that uncertainty extends beyond just the state government and its administration of an election that is less than seven weeks off. It affects the state party's plans for how it will handle the delegate selection process itself with the clock ticking down to the start of a delayed national convention.

1 Yes, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order on April 24 ensuring that absentee ballot applications would be mailed to every eligible New York voter in the June 23 primary. That decision came just days before the primary was canceled by the State Board of Elections on April 27.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

About that South Carolina Republican Party Defense of Canceling Its 2020 Presidential Primary

On Friday, October 18, the challenge to the cancelation of the 2020 presidential primary by the South Carolina Republican Party had its day in court.

While those who brought the suit leaned on the facts that the South Carolina Republican Party executive committee canceled the primary rather than the state convention and that that break with party rules is against state law calling on political parties to follow their own rules, the SCGOP came forth with a different set of arguments in favor of the change.

Part of that defense was built around the bipartisan precedents from previous cycles when incumbents  have sought renomination. The Republican primary was canceled in 1984 and 2004 and Palmetto state Democrats backed out of their primaries in 1996 and 2012 when Clinton and Obama were running for second terms. But the defense of the cancelation took a turn when it was argued that South Carolina Republicans would have more not less power outside of a primary election. Under a caucus/convention system, national convention delegates would be unbound and able to be lobbied to support a candidate of South Carolina Republicans' collective wishes.

In a primary, those delegates would be bound to the winner of the primary (statewide and in each of the seven congressional districts).

Much of that belies the fact that there are rules that apply here; both national party rules and state party rules.

On the state party level, South Carolina delegates allocated to candidates under Rule 11.b.(5-6) based on the results of the primary are only bound under certain circumstances. If the winner either statewide or within a congressional district is no longer in the race, the the delegates are bound to the second place finisher. If that candidate is no longer in the race, then the delegates shift to the third place candidate.

But here is the key factor and where the national party rules come into play. If none of the top three candidates are placed in nomination under Rule 40(b), then the delegates from South Carolina head to the national convention unbound.

Now, the odds at this point in time point toward President Trump likely sweeping the 50 delegates from the Palmetto state as he did in 2016. Yes, that would mean those delegates would be bound to Trump (should his name be placed in nomination at the convention in Charlotte). Technically, that would mean delegates could not be lobbied by rank-and-file South Carolina Republicans as the state party's lawyers argued on Friday. However, if Trump's name is the only one placed in nomination, then that lobbying power is pretty hollow any way.

There will likely be a decision in the South Carolina circuit court later this month, but an appeal from the losing side to the South Carolina supreme court is probable.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Florida GOP Eschews Presidential Primary Cancelation, but...

While a handful of other Republican state parties have made decisions throughout the summer months of 2019 to cancel 2020 primaries and caucuses, the Florida Republican Party has chosen not to join the club.

Republican Party of Florida chair, Joe Gruters said, "If people think that they want to challenge the president, by all means, go ahead, they’re going to get annihilated," according to The Palm Beach Post.

But while spinning the likely landslide primary win as a bonus for the president is one thing, that may not be the end of the story on the fate of the Republican presidential primary the Sunshine state in 2020. Florida, as it turns out, has a law on the books that cancels the primary if only one candidate makes the primary ballot. This canceled the Republican primary in the state in 2004 when George W. Bush was up for renomination. And the Florida primary was again canceled in 2012 when Barack Obama saw no competition for the Democratic presidential nomination.

That could again happen in Florida for 2020 depending on ballot access. But here's the rub: the bar for ballot access to the presidential primary in the Sunshine state is quite low. There are no petitions and no filing fees as hoops through which the various campaigns have to jump. Instead, the process is initiated by the state party itself. A state party submits to the Florida secretary of state a list of candidates to be included on the primary ballot by November 30, 2019. The secretary of state, then, publishes the list within the week by December 3. That becomes the official list unless one or more of the candidates wants his or her name removed from the ballot.

There is still a chance, then, that the Florida primary will be canceled, but it hinges on the list that the Republican Party of Florida will, itself, submit to the secretary of state. Chair Gruters' comments above seem to imply that the three challengers are more than welcome to a spot on the primary ballot.

But whether the party actually submits their names by November 30 remains to be seen. That is the key question moving forward.

The Florida primary is set for March 17 and would retain the winner-take-all allocation formula the party has utilized in recent cycles (according to the party rules adopted in 2017).

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Canceled No More? South Carolina GOP Decision to Cancel Presidential Primary Challenged in Court

A lawsuit has been brought against the South Carolina Republican Party over its decision to cancel its 2020 presidential primary the Charleston Post and Courier reports. The issue is less directly about the decision itself than how the decision was made.

Under the rules of the South Carolina Republican Party, the party has the option of canceling a presidential primary as it has done a number of times in the past in uncompetitive Republican presidential nomination cycles involving an incumbent. It happened in 1992 and again in 2004. But the mechanism in place to cancel the primary follows a certain protocol, a protocol laid out in party rules and not seemingly followed during the decision-making process for 2020.

The prime actor charged with initiating the cancelation under the rules is the state convention. And in March of 2019, the South Carolina Republican state convention did not take up the issue of the presidential primary. Instead, it was the party's executive committee that made the move. Now, the executive committee is not without some power in the cancelation process, but is limited and actually runs in the opposite direction. As Rule 11 details, the cancelation decision is the domain of the state convention. But if the executive committee later decides that there is value in holding a presidential primary and not canceling, then the committee can reverse the decision by January 15 of a presidential election year.

The executive committee, then, has the power to reverse a cancelation, but not cancel the primary by itself. But that is exactly what the SCGOP executive committee did on September 7. And there is nothing in the rules covering that decision, nor one to reinstitute a primary once it has been canceled. The committee can only reverse the state convention system.

It was this conflict that drew the lawsuit from former South Carolina congressman, Bob Inglis and one other complainant. Whether the action reverses the SCGOP decision remains to be seen, but it is one that clearly strays from the process described in the state party rules, which also conflicts with state law prohibiting state parties from doing so.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Idaho Republicans Face Deadline on 2020 Presidential Primary

As the October 1 RNC deadline for state parties to finalize plans for 2020 delegate selection approaches, Idaho Republicans face a decision.

Under the rules of the Idaho Republican Party, the state party chairman has until the final Monday in September to opt into or out of the state government-run presidential primary. That last Monday in September falls on Monday, September 30, the day before the RNC deadline. And Chairman Raúl Labrador could follow the raft of other Republican state parties that have chosen already to cancel their delegate selection events or presidential preference votes ahead of a cycle in which the party is likely to renominate President Trump.

But it should be noted that in past instances in which Republican presidents have run for renomination, Idaho Republicans have no recent history of canceling primaries or caucuses. That did not happen in 1992 nor did it happen in 2004. That said, in a season in which an increasing number of state Republican parties are opting out of primaries and caucuses, Idaho could join the group in an effort to smooth the president's path to renomination.

Finally, the Idaho Republican Party when it adopted changes to its rules in April 2019 made no significant changes to the delegate allocation rules for 2020. There remains a 20 percent threshold to qualify for delegates, a level that may be high enough to keep the president's opponents away from qualification. And Idaho is a backdoor winner-take-all state. If only one candidate surpasses 20 percent, then that candidate receives all of the delegates from the Gem state. And that is in addition to the winner-take-all threshold the party has in place, a 50 percent threshold that, if triggered, would also award all of the delegates to the majority winner. This is all consistent with how the party operated its delegate allocation in 2016.

Regardless, for those watching state party-level maneuvering, Idaho bears some attention as the week progresses and the calendar eases into the weekend.

The Idaho Republican Party state central committee also passed a resolution at its June meeting supporting President Trump. That move may or may not serve as some evidence that the party will move to ease Trump's road to the nomination through a primary cancelation.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Time Ran Out on Washington Presidential Primary Bill

As mandated by the state constitution, the Washington state legislature must wrap up the business of its 2015 regular session by April 26. However, both chambers of the legislature ended their regular session work on Friday evening, April 24.

One of the bills -- ideas really -- left in limbo as the session closed was SB 5978. Originally, that legislation was intended to entice the state parties into using the presidential primary election to allocate at least some of their national delegates. That version passed the Republican-controlled state Senate, but has stalled in the Democratic-controlled state House. And, in fact, that bill was amended to make the presidential primary contingent upon the parties using the election to allocated at least 75% of their national convention delegates. If the parties -- both parties -- fail to use the primary and at that allocation threshold, the presidential primary election is automatically cancelled.

FHQ made the case earlier this week that that maneuver was a function of the combination of the Washington Democratic Party opting for a caucuses/convention system in 2016 and a Democratic-controlled state House moving, in part, to reflect that decision. However, there were institutional reasons driving that House Appropriations Committee amendment. As FHQ commenter, jimrtex, astutely pointed out, SB 5978 and other bills faced a number of deadlines recently. Most importantly,  that includes the April 15 deadline for bills to have passed the chamber opposite the bill's originated chamber. For SB 5978, then, that means it would have to have passed the House by April 15.

It did not.

There is, however, an exception to that cutoff: bills that have some budgetary effect. SB 5978 did not originally have any budgetary impact. It called for a presidential primary election to be held as usual,  but proposed shifting the date and the delegate allocation formula. To keep the bill alive, it had to have some effect on the budget. Adding the amendment with a trigger to automatically cancel the primary, SB 5978 now has a potential $11.5 million impact. As in, it would save the state $11.5 million in the next budget if the primary is cancelled. And really that if is a when. Again, both parties have to opt into the presidential primary and allocate 75% of their delegates through the results of that election. State Democrats have already voted to hold caucuses in 2016.

That fact -- that both parties are likely headed for caucuses -- and the fact that SB 5978 died in the House as the regular session closed means that Washington essentially has a meaningless $11.5 million expenditure in the state budget for the next two years. But that projected budget and its different versions across the two legislative chambers were not reconciled prior to the close of the session. That work will continue in a special session to convene next week.

There might be an $11.5 million presidential primary appropriation that may become part of that discussion.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The original version of this post was written Friday morning, April 24 and scheduled to run Saturday morning, April 25 to fill a travel-related gap in FHQ's postings. That post ran as scheduled, but the Washington legislature adjourned on Friday evening after the original post was in the can. The post has been edited to reflect the earlier adjournment and the upcoming special session in the Evergreen state. 

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The 2016 Washington State Presidential Primary May Be Headed for the Exits

In a not-all-that-unexpected move, the Washington state Democratic Party voted this past weekend at its state central committee meeting to select and allocated delegates to the 2016 national convention through a caucuses/convention system. The party had already telegraphed the move with the earlier release of its draft 2016 delegate selection plan.

With Washington Democrats set to hold caucuses in 2016, it does seemingly spell doom for legislation that has been working its way through the Washington state legislature this winter/spring. As it stands now, state law calls for a Washington presidential primary in May of any presidential election year. However, legislation (SB 5978) that has already passed the Republican-controlled state Senate in Washington calls not only for moving the date up to March, but also for the state parties to allocate some of their delegates based on the results of the primary election. Without buy-in from both parties, the primary would still be held but with all candidates from both parties listed together on the primary ballot.

With state Democrats shunning the presidential primary, the latter option would be the only available option for both parties. That would likely push Republicans to a caucuses/convention system as well and leave a high price tag on a meaningless beauty contest for the state.

That writing now appears to be on the wall and state legislators have responded. In a public hearing on the by Senate-passed bill this morning -- Monday, April 20 -- the House Committee on Appropriations introduced an amendment to require the parties to allocate at least 75% of their delegates via the primary. But if both parties did not opt into a the primary under those criteria, then the primary would be cancelled.1

This is good legislating. It provides the state parties with a primary option, albeit with contingencies, but automatically cancels the primary if both parties (or just one really) choose to go the caucuses route. That saves legislators the trouble of revisiting the cancelation of the primary every four years. If both parties do not opt in the cancelation would be automatically triggered.

The primary would remain in May, but the secretary of state would retain the option of selecting/proposing an earlier date for the election that is in the current law. In reality, if the law is changed, it puts the decision-making power in the hands of state Democrats. The party has traditionally held caucuses instead of using the primary. If the party were to continue that practice in the future it would in effect cancel the primary each time.

Now, it should be mentioned that the amendment was merely offered today. The House Appropriations Committee did not vote on it much less send it off to the floor of the Democratic-controlled lower chamber. Even if the bill made it through those two steps (a likely outcome given that state Democrats have chosen caucuses), it would have to return to the Republican-controlled Senate. The upper chamber would have to concur with those changes to send the amended bill on. Republicans may balk at that in the upper chamber. However, their choices would be meaningless primary with an $11.5 million price tag or save the money and let the state Republican Party use the same caucuses/convention process it used in 2012 when the Washington presidential primary was cancelled.

In other words, Republicans' hands are kind of tied on this one. Even Secretary of State Kim Wyman admitted in public testimony today that she would opt for the cost savings if the primary is going to be meaningless. Time will tell if the bill moves on in its amended form and if Senate Republicans agree with her.

1 That amendment was brought by committee chairman, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48th, Bellvue).

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kansas Committee Divided Over Whether to Cancel 2016 Presidential Primary

The Kansas state Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections met Wednesday, February 25. On the agenda was SB 239, the bill that would cancel the presidential primary in the Sunflower state for the sixth consecutive cycle.

The path to that regular cancellation may have found some resistance during the 2016 presidential nomination cycle. The Associated Press is reporting that while a vote was not taken on the measure in committee today, committee member and Senate president, Susan Wagle (R-30th, Wichita), voiced opposition to the move.

This sets up in Kansas what was a somewhat common dispute across the country in state capitals during the 2012 cycle: a legislature potentially split over the savings associated with not holding a presidential primary (or holding a consolidated primary including a presidential preference vote) on one hand, or attempting to draw in more candidate attention/spending and encouraging wider voter participation by holding a primary on the other.

According to the fiscal note appended to SB 239, canceling the presidential primary would save Kansas $1.8 million in 2016.

However, Kansas does have some quirks to its elections law concerning the presidential primary. The only guidance the statute provides is that the secretary of state certify with the governor and the leadership in the state legislature an election date 1) on the same date as at least five other states and 2) barring that, on a date before the first Tuesday in April.

At this point in time, the only date on the 2016 presidential primary calendar before April with five or more states conducting primaries or caucuses is March 1, the target of the SEC primary.

But here's the thing: How much attention would a Kansas primary gain on a date shared with mostly southern states? Kansas would be much more likely to get lost in the shuffle on March 1, failing to garner the attention primary proponents like Sen. Wagle are seeking.

Also odd in this case is the fact that the person who would gain the most in all of this would be the Kansas secretary of state. Secretary Kris Koback (R) would be granted similar date-setting power to that of secretaries of state in New Hampshire and Georgia. But Secretary Kobach is the one spearheading the effort to cancel the presidential primary in 2016.

If there ends up being a stalemate on canceling the Kansas presidential primary, it does not look if either side would get what it wants. The history here is pretty clear though. Five straight cancelled presidential primaries is a consistent pattern and an even clearer signal about where this all may end up.

UPDATE (3/5/15): Identical House bill introduced

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Michigan Democrats Call on State Republicans to Cancel Presidential Primary

In a press item1 released on Monday, the Michigan Democratic Party called on Republicans in the state to cancel the Wolverine state's 2012 presidential primary. Democrats cited the $10 million savings as the prime reason for the call and raised the point that Michigan Democrats will allocate delegates to their national convention via caucuses. The primary, then, would cost the state the same amount, but only be used by one of the parties as a means of allocating delegates.

The release is new, but the sentiment is not. Michigan Democratic legislators earlier in the month bemoaned the budget expenditure for the primary, but Republicans deferred:
Resolving that conflict [the presidential primary issue] is “a discussion further down the road,” said Michigan Republican Party spokesman Matt Davis. He said it’s up to the Legislature to pay for a primary that’s required under current law.
That may be, but the Republican-controlled legislature is likely to wait until later in the year -- when Michigan Republicans make their decision on when and how to allocated their delegates in August -- before moving on the presidential primary question and relatedly, whether to fund it.

But Democrats came with additional ammunition, seeking -- futilely perhaps -- to goad Republicans closed to their position. Understandably, Republicans in any state would be hesitant to shift from a primary to a caucus in a year in which the Republican presidential nomination is at stake based on a loss of (candidate and media) attention (see Gurian 1993). But Democrats pointed to the fact that the state canceled its 2004 primary when only the Democratic Party had a competitive presidential nomination race. That seems like a good point, save for two realities. First, Republicans controlled the legislature in 2003 when the primary was canceled. Sure Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm signed off on the move, but it was a Republican-initiated effort (see SB 397, five Republican co-sponsors) that received Democratic support in the legislature.2

And while that can be dismissed as a bipartisan effort that lends some credence to the point of the Michigan Democratic Party ("Let's work together and save the state some money."), the history of the two Michigan parties in presidential nominations should not be ignored. That is the second point. Michigan Republicans have historically been more active in presidential nominations. This has come in fits and starts, but Michigan Republicans began their 1988 delegate selection process in 1986, held a February primary in 2000 (while Democrats were forced to hold a later caucus) and there's the 2008 presidential primary saga in Michigan. Granted, Michigan Democrats were being proactive in going along with Republicans in the legislature in moving the primary up and into violation of both parties' delegate selection rules.

This is a long way of saying that Michigan Democrats probably shouldn't hold their breath on this. Even if it does work out and Michigan Republicans opt for a caucus system, we won't know that until August.

Michigan Democrats Call on Michigan GOP to Agree to Cancel Presidential Primary, Save Hundreds of Jobs

LANSING – The Michigan Democratic Party today called on Michigan Republicans to agree with Democrats to cancel the 2012 presidential primary election, which would cost the state $10 million dollars. The Michigan Democratic Party will not participate in the primary and will instead hold a presidential caucus on May 5, 2012.

“Canceling the primary and saving $10 million would help to save more than 200 jobs for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said. “This money is much better spent protecting jobs and Michigan families rather than on a primary election.”

“We have chosen not to participate in a primary and to hold a caucus to save the state money,” continued Brewer. “We ask the Republicans to agree with us to cancel the primary and help save jobs.”

The 2004 Michigan presidential primary was canceled by agreement of the parties, saving money. This year, Republicans and Democrats in several states, including Washington and Kansas, have already passed legislation to cancel the presidential primary to save money.

Schools are already suffering thanks to Governor Snyder’s budget that cuts public education, and unfairly increases taxes on seniors, middle class families, and low-wage workers all to pay for a record tax giveaway to CEOs, banks, and insurance companies. The Lansing School District alone would be forced to lay-off dozens of teachers – leading to increased class sizes and less individual attention for students.

“The people who will really suffer with this budget are our kids,” Lansing School District teacher Alfonso Salais said. “We need to be investing in our kids and putting money back into the classroom. This budget tells our students that we don’t care about their future and that’s wrong. We need to save money anywhere we can so we have more to put back into schools. Canceling an unnecessary presidential primary will help save $10 millions and more than 200 teachers’ jobs and will provide a better education for our students in Michigan so they can compete in a global economy.”

Concluded Salais, “The savings of $10 million to invest in educational resources and other service-oriented professions, will provide concrete proof to the citizens of Michigan that their children’s future and the needs of the people are a priority.”

2 The bill passed unanimously in both chambers.