Showing posts with label primary scheduling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label primary scheduling. Show all posts

Saturday, July 22, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] A second state-run primary option in New Hampshire?

The following is cross-posted from FHQ Plus, FHQ's subscription newsletter. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


Talk about burying the lede. This came in over the wires from NBC News this morning...
New Hampshire Republicans would prefer to keep their primary in late January, after Iowa, rather than see [New Hampshire Secretary of State David] Scanlan have to leapfrog Iowa because of Democrats’ maneuvering. Republican state Rep. Ross Berry, who chairs the House Election Law Committee, said he is considering “contingencies” that might prevent that.

Berry said he is considering introducing legislation that would allow Scanlan to set two different primary dates, one for each party. He called it a “last resort option” that would give Scanlan a new tool if he makes the determination that Iowa’s Democratic caucus is functionally the same as a primary.

“We don’t want to get caught flat-footed on it,” Berry said. “If the secretary of state says, ‘You know what, I’m cool with Iowa mailing in their stuff,’ we have no problem, I see no reason to change things,” he continued.
The rest of the piece is standard fare for stories covering the back and forth over the calendar between Iowa Democrats and the New Hampshire secretary of state. It builds up the tension that seemingly exists without getting too far down into the weeds to explain that there probably is not much tension there at all. As the piece notes, it is not unusual for New Hampshire to string this decision out. Long-time and former Secretary Gardner pulled the trigger on a choice for 2008 the day before Thanksgiving in 2007 and waited into November again in 2011. In both cases, a decision was made roughly two months before January primaries in both cycles. Regardless of the timing of a decision from Scanlan, the choice boils down to answering one simple question. And Iowa Democrats are not showing their cards at the moment (even if the state party's actions seem to tip their hand).

But still, even if the early state calendar tension is on a low simmer (at most), the notion that there is a proposal for an emergency legislative fix in the Granite state is newsworthy. Well, it is newsworthy on the surface anyway.

Digging in a bit, creating an option for the secretary of state to schedule a second presidential primary would bail out Democrats currently at odds with the national party over the DNC’s new calendar rules for the 2024 cycle. That New Hampshire Republicans would even consider that is enough to raise eyebrows. And that is without considering the costs associated with a second state-run presidential primary election. The state footing the bill for that is one thing that is almost unbelievable, but creating a carve-out for (what some perceive as) Democrats’ collective own-goal in a battleground state would seem to be a bridge to far for Republicans in control of the levers of power in the state.

But it also goes to show just how far at least one Republican is willing to go to preserve the first-in-the-nation tradition in the Granite state.

Of course, none of this appears necessary at the moment. There are questions surrounding the scheduling of the all-mail Iowa Democratic presidential preference vote. [The Democratic caucuses will be on January 15.] But why would Iowa Democrats go to the trouble of devising this bifurcated caucus/preference vote process in an incumbent cycle if they were just going to break the rules. The system is one that allows Iowa Democrats to have their cake and hopefully (from their perspective) eat it too. The caucuses will remain first (the same night as Iowa Republicans), but the delegate allocation (through the preference vote) can conclude later than that at a time that is either in the Democrats’ early window (with a waiver from the DNC) or on or after March 5. It is a system designed to preserve tradition and comply with DNC rules. It is also a system that allows Iowa Democrats to stay out of the way of business as usual in the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office.

So maybe NBC News did not bury the lede here. Maybe they just got an interesting quote from a legislator in New Hampshire with a proposal for a novel rip cord the state could pull in case of emergency. The only thing is that there does not appear to be an emergency in the near term or on the horizon.

All there actually is is an inability in the press to dig in on this story and describe what is happening between Iowa and New Hampshire. Less than meets the eye.


Saturday, June 24, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] The Georgia primary isn't really in "limbo"

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's subscription newsletter. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


FHQ always follows along with rules meetings when I have the time. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) meeting late last week from Minneapolis was no exception. It was a productive if not eventful meeting. Among other things, the panel extended the early calendar waiver for New Hampshire and took up 19 state delegate selection plans, clearing 15 of them as conditionally compliant. 

Much of it seemed straightforward enough. But then I read some of the recaps and kept asking myself if folks had watched the same meeting I had. Sure, rules can have their various interpretations, but these sorts of sessions — those where delegate selection plans are being reviewed — can be pretty technical, pretty black and white. Yet, that did not stop some folks from reading shades of gray into matters where there really is none. Or in the case of the New Hampshire waiver, seeing what they wanted to see.

The consideration of the Georgia presidential primary (and any waiver extension for it) at the DNCRBC meeting last week was one of those situations. Like New Hampshire, the presidential primary in the Peach state had a spot in the early window of the Democratic calendar reserved for it for 2024, but ran into resistance with Republican state officials back home. However, unlike the situation in New Hampshire, the date of the Georgia primary has been set by the secretary of state. That deal is done. 

And DNCRBC co-Chair Minyan Moore seemed to acknowledge that in her comments about what she and fellow co-Chair Jim Roosevelt would recommend to the committee. She conceded that, despite the efforts of Democrats in Georgia and nationally, Peach state Republicans would not budge. They would not cooperate with the proposed change. And though Moore did not acknowledge it, it was an entirely understandable position. Any Georgia primary in mid-February would have cost Peach state Republicans a sizable chunk of their delegation to the national convention in Milwaukee next summer. Their hands were tied. They always were with respect to a February 13 position under Republican National Committee rules. [There were, however, other early window options that may have worked.]

But after that explanation, Moore said…

“…it does not seem to make sense to extend the Georgia waiver at this point. Regardless, I think the foundation has been laid for 2028, and it is a discussion that we need to continue.”

The key phrase in that statement is the highlighted one, at this point. Its addition was enough for the Associated Press to say that the Georgia primary was in limbo, that the committee had “opted not to immediately offer such an extension to another battleground state, Georgia.”

Look, the at this point was in reference to 2024 in its entirety, not this particular point in the 2024 cycle. And the reference to 2028 should have driven that point home. There is no number of waivers that the DNCRBC could offer Georgia Democrats that could get the state-run primary out of that March 12 slot. None. It is not in limbo. It is set for 2024. And this discussion can continue. 

…for 2028.

But it should be noted that there is a loose thread in all of this. There still is no draft delegate selection plan from the Georgia Democratic Party. Its absence at this time could create enough uncertainty that one may be inclined to suggest that maybe a party-run primary of some sort is in the works. 


But if that was the case, then the DNCRBC would have granted an extension on the Georgia waiver last week. They did not. And they held back on that waiver extension because Georgia is done. The primary is set. 

The committee is set to address delegate selection plans from the southern region at its July meeting, so this all should clear up to some degree by then. 


Wednesday, June 21, 2023

One more quirk in the scheduling of the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • Republicans in the Virgin Islands have set forth an ambitious plan for 2024 delegate allocation and selection in the island territory. All the details at FHQ Plus.
If you haven't checked out FHQ Plus yet, then what are you waiting for? Subscribe below for free and consider a paid subscription to support FHQ's work and unlock the full site.

In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
One more thing on South Carolina Republicans setting the date of their 2024 presidential primary...

In revamping FHQ's 2024 presidential primary calendar after the decision out of the Palmetto state over the weekend, it dawned on me that the South Carolina Republican primary has really not "moved" all that far. In truth, it has not moved at all. The date was never set. But now, the primary is set for February 24, 2024. 

Where did FHQ have it tentatively placed way back in the initial iteration of the calendar that was released the day after Inauguration Day in 2021? 

February 24, 2024. 

This is not a boast. It is more a coincidence than anything else. In that time, in early 2021, before the Nevada legislature established the new presidential primary in the Silver state and scheduled it for the first Tuesday in February, the outlook on the 2024 calendar was fairly straightforward. It was going to look like 2016 and 2020: Iowa during the first week of February, New Hampshire's primary the following week and the South Carolina Republican primary the next weekend more than seven days after that. 

However, something was going to have to give in the long run in that scenario because FHQ also had the Nevada caucuses -- again, before the primary was established -- on the same February 24 date. Ultimately, two things gave. First, Nevada established the early February primary. But second South Carolina Republicans relented by apparently yielding their implied third position in the Republican order to Nevada Republicans (whether the party there opts into the state-run primary or not).

But it is funny how it has all worked out to this point. Nevada Republicans still have to settle their plans for 2024. 

From around the invisible primary...
  • In the money primary, Ron DeSantis has been fundraising in California this week. Next week the Florida governor will do the same thing in Rockland County outside of New York. The $6600 per person dinner with DeSantis and major business leaders will be his second fundraiser of the day in the Empire state, following another event in Manhattan.
  • Axios Detroit does their version of the hybrid Michigan primary-caucus system helps Trump story. To be clear, it is not so much the format that helps Trump as the make up of the Michigan Republican Party that may benefit the former president. This can be a kind of chicken or the egg argument, but if the party were tilted toward another candidate and/or if the grassroots were energized and aligned with another candidate, then the format would help them. The big thing about the change is that it erects institutional hurdles that will make it hard for candidates not named Trump or DeSantis to effectively compete in the Great Lakes state. They are the two with the best combination of name recognition, financial resources and organization to make it work in Michigan under the proposed hybrid rules. this time. That picture could change.
  • A local, North Dakota-centered look at how folks nationally are reacting to Governor Doug Burgum's bid for the Republican presidential nomination. 
  • In the travel primary, both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis will be in New Hampshire next Tuesday, June 27. Trump to keynote a New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women luncheon in Concord and DeSantis for a town hall meeting in Hollis. 
  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's anti-Trump run at the Republican nomination is not without some heavy hitters in the political donor game. There was some early reporting that Mets owner and hedge fund founder Steve Cohen was also financially backing Christie's bid through a super PAC. Cohen remains on the periphery of the Republican race for now. 

On this date... 2011, former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman joined the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination


Monday, June 19, 2023

South Carolina's move greatly reduces uncertainty on the 2024 presidential primary calendar

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • A thorough contextualization of the decision by South Carolina Republicans to schedule the party's presidential primary for late February next year, plus another envelope-pushing Republican delegate selection plan that quietly slipped under the radar over the weekend. All the details at FHQ Plus.
If you haven't checked out FHQ Plus yet, then what are you waiting for? Subscribe below for free and consider a paid subscription to support FHQ's work and unlock the full site.

In Invisible Primary: Visible today...

The big news out of the Palmetto state over the weekend was that the Executive Committee of the South Carolina Republican Party voted to schedule the 2024 presidential primary for February 24.

That significantly lowers the temperature on 2024 calendar “chaos” moving forward. With the South Carolina Republican primary in place toward the end of February, that gives Nevada Republicans a substantial runway to land somewhere in the first three weeks of the month. That also means one less contest to potentially compete for calendar space with Iowa and New Hampshire in January. 

There have been those outside of this site who have built up the notion of looming uncertainty with respect to the 2024 calendar, but breathless stories of rogue calendar maneuvering just has not made chaos materialize. It has not. That is not to say that there will not be drama down the stretch as the last calendar pieces fall into place, but it will be muted and all hinges on basically one question: 

On what date does the Iowa Democratic vote-by-mail presidential preference vote end? 

It could be in violation of DNC rules in February and still not affect the beginning of the Republican calendar. That preference vote could end on or after Super Tuesday and it would not change what seems likely. It is only in the event that the Iowa Democratic preference vote ends in January (and probably specifically either on in-person caucus night or merely ahead of the spot New Hampshire is eyeing) that things would turn problematic. 

In any event, there is so much more over at FHQ Plus about the South Carolina move and the early calendar options ahead.

And that triggered a giant update to FHQ's 2024 presidential primary calendar. Both are well worth checking out.

Seth Masket does a great job in laying out the balance national parties attempt to maintain in cycles when their incumbent president is seeking reelection. It is a nice departure into the the Democratic race over at Tusk.

From around the invisible primary...
Speaking of the nomination race on the incumbent president's side, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s scheduled attendance at PorcFest, a festival of the libertarian-minded New Hampshire Free State Project has drawn a response from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley

Kennedy and Williamson have one play in the contest with Joe Biden: win a rogue New Hampshire presidential primary and hope for the best. But one of those two winning in the Granite state next year either outright or relative to expectations against each other (with Biden not on the ballot) is still less likely to hurt Biden than it is to affect the future of the New Hampshire primary in the Democratic Party's early calendar lineup.

It is an outcome that the New Hampshire Democratic Party does not want. So when friction pops up between Kennedy and the state Democratic Party, it is noteworthy. 


Saturday, June 3, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] Uncertainty and the 2024 Presidential Primary Calendar

The following is cross-posted from FHQ Plus, FHQ's subscription newsletter. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


The 2024 invisible primary has gotten to a point where more and more folks are starting to look at the calendar of nominating contests that the Republicans vying for the presidential nomination will face next year. And due to the proximity to the beginning of primary season seven-ish months away, the order of those contests is taking on increasing importance. 

But here things are, seven months or so from the kickoff of primary season 2024, and uncertainty remains. And it exists at the very beginning of the calendar. There is not one Republican primary or caucus in any state that has an official date on the calendar before Super Tuesday. Or stated differently, every state one might expect to fall before Super Tuesday in 2024 has at least one caveat that makes it impossible to know exactly where those states may end up when the calendar dust settles.

Now, some of us are of a mind that all of this will shake out with some drama over the coming months, but limited drama. It all depends on the moves the various players make. Here are a few of the moves about which there is uncertainty, but from which the calendar answers will come.

  • Michigan Republicans: Do Republicans in the Great Lakes state opt into the late February presidential primary or choose to select and allocate national convention delegates in a party-run caucus/convention process? The party is in a bind either way (but this will not directly affect the earlier protected states in the Republican process).

  • Nevada Republicans: Same question, different state Republican party: Do Nevada Republicans opt into the state-run presidential primary on February 6 or decide to use a slightly later (but before a Michigan Republican primary) caucus/convention process? The later caucus option may save Republicans from starting primary season in early instead of mid-January. [And just this week, there were signals from Silver state Republicans that they are aiming for caucuses.]

  • South Carolina Republicans: Theoretically, the decision here will hinge to some degree on what Michigan and Nevada decide. But what Palmetto state Republicans decide is also colored by the political custom in the state for the parties have (state-run) primaries on 1) a Saturday and 2) on different days. Breaking from those traditions may provide some additional leeway, but they are traditions for a reason. If Nevada Republicans opt into the primary in the Silver state, then South Carolina Republicans would likely have a primary no later than February 3 alongside Democrats in the state. However, if they follow tradition, then Republicans in the first-in-the-South primary state would likely hold a primary a week earlier on January 27. And that would leave Iowa and New Hampshire with a very narrow sliver of calendar in which to operate (under the traditional rules of calendar engagement).

  • New Hampshire: The secretary of state in the Granite state -- the person who makes the primary scheduling decision -- is cross-pressured on two sides, sandwiched between the decisions Iowa and South Carolina actors may make. But the South Carolina Democratic primary is scheduled for February 3. That means that the New Hampshire primary will be no later than January 23, on a Tuesday at least seven days before any other similar election. South Carolina Republicans may push that a little earlier if they schedule a January primary. On the other side, Iowa Democrats' decision to conduct a vote-by-mail presidential preference vote raises red flags in New Hampshire because it too closely resembles a primary. But there is no date for the conclusion of that preference vote. If that vote concludes on caucus night, whenever in January that ends up, then that could draw New Hampshire to an even earlier date ahead of Iowa.

  • Iowa Republicans: Decision makers within the Republican Party of Iowa are also stuck to some extent; stuck between what Iowa Democrats are planning and what New Hampshire's secretary of state may do in response. But the party is mostly stuck because decision makers seem to want to make a decision on the caucus date for 2024 some time early this summer when there may not yet be enough information to make a decision that protects the traditional calendar order in the Republican process. Waiting for Iowa Democrats' preference vote (conclusion) date to settle is likely to resolve much of this drama at the very front end of the calendar. 

The takeaway is that there is some uncertainty that is sure to create some drama over the final calendar, but it is uncertainty that can be boiled down to a handful of decisions in a handful of states. Admittedly, it can go in a number of different directions -- choose your own adventure! -- but there is a pretty narrow range of possibilities. 

Follow the evolving calendar here.


[Side note: FHQ likes the Ballotpedia way of looking at the primary calendar. While FHQ attempts to explain all of the chaos away (or to put it into context), their model is simpler: what is confirmed. But if one is going to do that, then one has to actually confirm confirmed primary dates. Ballotpedia lists Colorado as confirmed for Super Tuesday. Now, FHQ fully expects that that is where the presidential primary in the Centennial state ends up in 2024. The secretary of state has it on the calendarThe Colorado Democratic Party has it in their delegate selection plan. But the date is not official yet. The secretary of state and the governor make that decision. And nothing has been said publicly about that yet. For comparison, Governor Polis announced the 2020 presidential primary date at the end of April 2019. By law, decision makers have until September 1 of this year to set the date.]


Saturday, May 20, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] The Quirks of Scheduling a South Carolina Presidential Primary

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently made the curious decision to schedule the presidential primary in the Peach state for March 12, a week after Super Tuesday. And the move not only ended the hopes of Georgia Democrats holding a primary in the pre-window on the 2024 presidential primary calendar, but it also highlighted why South Carolina got the nod from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to take over the lead off slot

The Raffensperger obstacle in Georgia, whether viewed through the lens of partisanship or not, is something with which decision makers in the Palmetto state do not have to contend. After all, like Georgia, the state of South Carolina foots the bill for the election. However, unlike Georgia, the it is the state parties in South Carolina that set the date of the contest. It is a unique power that grants the state’s primaries more scheduling mobility than the vast majority of the states and allows South Carolina to remain first-in-the-South (if not first-in-the-nation).

But that freedom in South Carolina is not without some fetters. 

Caitlin Byrd and Alexander Thompson had a nice “yes, South Carolina Democrats are actually having the first primary in 2024” story over the weekend. And complications with rogue New Hampshire (and the very likely resulting penalties from the DNC) aside, they are. South Carolina Democrats will have a February 3 primary next year. 

But as the piece notes, it is not all smooth sailing in the Palmetto state. 

But not everyone is convinced that a 2024 presidential primary would be a major financial or organizing boost. Former party chair Dick Harpootlian questioned the value of holding a potentially costly event for a predictable outcome.  

“The question is, do we have one if it’s the president versus nobody, because it costs a tremendous amount of money to do that,” he said.

Two Democrats so far have announced challenging Biden for the 2024 presidential nomination: Marianne Williamson and Robert Kennedy Jr., both widely viewed as long shots. 

Pressed if he would want a primary with the current field, Harpootlian replied, “I wouldn’t have it.”

Again, South Carolina Democrats are going to have that February 3 primary. But Harpootlian hints at some of the historical quirks in South Carolina, quirks that have taken new shape under state and national party changes. Yes, the parties have the freedom to set the date of the contest for anywhere on the calendar they wish, so long as it follows party rules. And in years past when incumbent presidents have run for reelection, those same state parties have had the freedom to cancel the contest and select delegates through a caucus/convention process. It is not some sinister plot to foil the plans of also-ran candidates. Instead, it is a nod to reality. If the president is going to be renominated, then why, in recent years since the state began funding the primaries, spend taxpayer money (or party money before that) to fund a beauty contest election? The answer is that those state parties have not. There was no big, first-in-the-South primary when Bill Clinton ran for reelection in 1996, or for George W. Bush in 2004, or Barack Obama in 2012 or Donald Trump in 2020. Caucuses and/or conventions were held instead. 

But South Carolina Democrats do not have that freedom for 2024. And no one seems to be lamenting that loss. Everyone is too busy celebrating the elevation of the primary to the first spot on the calendar instead. Well, perhaps not Dick Harpootlian. But he is not wrong, per se, nor is South Carolina alone. The primary is alone at the top, of course, but even other states or state parties that might otherwise go small in 2024 with a Democratic president running again have to go through the motions of a primary because of the Rule 2 encouragements layered into DNC rules for the 2020 cycle, the encouragements to hold the most open and accessible nominating contests as is feasible.

To be sure, folks at the DNC would push back against the notion that any state or state party is “going through the motions.” The argument from the national party would most certainly be that the party is creating the most open, inclusive and accessible process for Democratic primary voters. However, the trade-off, if one wants to call it that, is that the party loses out on the incumbent-cycle streamlining of the process. 

And that streamlining, scaling down from a primary to a caucus, is something that some, if not all of the folks, at the DNC would say is no real loss. While that may be in the eye of the beholder, it is also true that there are and have been limited opportunities to streamline anyway. State parties with party-run nominating events may downgrade — hold caucuses over a party-run primary or a convention over caucuses. And some state parties do opt out of state-run primaries in incumbent cycles. Arizona and South Carolina did on the Republican side in 2020. Democrats in Florida and Michigan did in 2012 to avoid non-compliant primaries that were scheduled too early. And Washington Democrats in the legislature canceled the primary there that cycle, a primary the party never used until 2020 (after the legislature brought it back). And there ends up being a handful of states each cycle that automatically cancel a primary if only one candidate is on the ballot. 

So, there are a few instances each cycle where contests are canceled, but South Carolina is unique among state-funded primary states in that Democrats and Republicans can choose, and have chosen, separate dates throughout the post-reform era. And since the state got into the primary funding business for 2008, just two of the four cycles have seen primary cancelations. But 2024 will be the first one where an incumbent is running and a primary is not canceled. It will be the first time the state of South Carolina has had to pay for a largely uncompetitive presidential primary involving an incumbent president.

Again, this is not the custom elsewhere. In all other primary states, there is one primary. A state party with an incumbent president may opt out, but on the whole primaries are held and delegates are allocated, typically based on lopsided results that hand the president the overwhelming majority if not all of the delegates. But the cost constraint in South Carolina represents a unique obstacle with the state parties holding primaries on separate dates. That is two separate elections to fund. 

And that brings this back to 2024. There will be two primaries. But this will be the first time the state has funded primaries when the incumbent president’s party is not opting out. No one is complaining. The legislature is not threatening the funding. It is spent in service of keeping South Carolina first-in-the-South. But as Byrd and Thompson noted in their article, Palmetto state Republicans used the costs as a justification for opting out in 2020. Democrats in the state are not doing that for 2024. 

The question is whether that action will be the only first in South Carolina for 2024. Separate Democratic and Republican primaries have been the norm. But they do not have to be on different dates. South Carolina Republicans could join Democrats on February 3, save the state the second expenditure and provide a little more room for Iowa and New Hampshire to maneuver in January. 

But that may be a bridge too far in a state with a number of quirks.