Showing posts with label state funding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label state funding. Show all posts

Thursday, June 6, 2019

New Arizona Budget Contains a Presidential Primary Opt-Out for State Parties

The scaling back from primaries to caucuses to help the incumbent beat has been quiet for a while now. Such is the nature of the decentralized way in which the process to nominate presidential candidates develops in the year before a presidential election year.

As quiet as things have been on that front, however, Arizona quietly broke the silence last week when  Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed HB 2751 into law. Normally, the way state budgets intervene in the presidential nomination process is through the funding (or lack thereof) of state government-run primaries. But this budget bill in Arizona does not clearly draw that line. Democrats will have a primary next year, so the state will be paying for an election for that. Presumably however, that election will not include a Republican presidential preference vote.

And that is because at the request of the Arizona Republican Party, Speaker of the Arizona House, Rusty Bowers (R-25th, Maricopa) inserted the following section into the budget legislation for the session:
Notwithstanding section 16-241, Arizona Revised Statutes, a political party that is eligible to participate in the 2020 presidential preference election pursuant to section 16-244, Arizona Revised Statutes, may opt out of participating in the presidential preference election by sending a written notice to the secretary of state on or before September 16, 2019. If a political party opts out of participating in the presidential preference election, the secretary of state shall notify each county recorder and officer in charge of elections and the clerk of each county board of supervisors not later than five business days after receiving the written notice from the political party that the 2020 presidential preference election for that party is canceled.
The highlighted clause now gives state Republicans the discretion to repeat what the party did the last time an incumbent Republican presidential was up for reelection in 2004: cancel the Republican presidential primary in the Grand Canyon state. This is not something, then, that is unique to the broader Republican Party defense of President Trump. Instead, it is in line with what other states -- Kansas and South Carolina among them -- are doing and have done in the the past: scale operations back when an incumbent is up for reelection.

Arizona Republicans now have until the middle of September to make a decision about whether they will opt out of the presidential primary, although the party has already telegraphed where this is headed. September is noteworthy because that is just before the Republican National Committee deadline to finalize state-level delegate selection processes falls (October 1). That will be a busy time as many states will be finalizing plans either at state conventions or in state central committee meetings.

Howard Fischer's Capital News Service story quotes Arizona Republican Party spokesman, Zach Henry, as citing past presidential primary opt outs. Henry is right that Arizona Republicans opted out of the 2004 presidential primary election. However, Henry also cites state Democrats as having acted in the same way during incumbent Democratic presidential reelection cycles in 1996 and 2012. Opting out is a misleading way of describing Arizona Democratic Party activity during those two cycles, however. In both cycles, Arizona had a last Tuesday in February presidential primary, a date non-compliant with Democratic National Committee rules in both instances. Arizona Democrats did not opt out of the presidential primaries in those cycles as they were forced to opt for later caucuses to avoid penalty from the national party.

Arizona Republicans in 2004 faced no such conflict. Although the Arizona presidential primary was set by Governor Janet Napolitano (D) for the first Tuesday in February, that was not inconsistent with Republican National Committee rules at the time. In fact, 2004 was the first cycle in which February primaries for states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina were allowed by both parties. That allowance lasted through the 2008 cycle.

The parties' actions in these instances is different.

Thanks to Steve Kamp for passing along news of the Arizona opt-out provision to FHQ.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Idaho Presidential Primary Funding Bill Signed into Law

On Friday, April 10, Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R) signed SB 1178 into law. The legislation appropriates funds for the reestablished but newly separate presidential primary in the Gem state. Governor Otter signed the bill recreating the presidential primary a day earlier.

The $2 million price tag will go toward the March 8 presidential primary. Only Idaho Republicans have opted to use the primary as a means of expressing presidential preference. Democrats in the state have already chosen to maintain the caucuses/convention system the party has traditionally used. Idaho Democrats have selected March 22 as the date of the party's precinct caucuses.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Monday, April 6, 2015

House Passage Clears Way for Idaho Presidential Primary Funding Bill to Head to Governor

With a bill to reestablish a presidential primary in Idaho already off to Governor Otter's (R) desk, the lower chamber has now also quickly passed "trailer" legislation to fund the election. Last week the Idaho state Senate passed SB 1178 and on Monday, April 6, the state House followed suit, voting to send the measure to the governor for approval by a 51-18 vote.

The previous 2015 bill, SB 1066, reversed the 2012 repeal of the presidential primary law, but created a separate presidential primary that will be held in early March as opposed to May, consolidated with the other primary elections in the Gem state. Now, that election can be carried out since funds have been appropriated via SB 1178. This bill only applies to the 2016 presidential primary cycle. Funding of future presidential primary elections will be considered by legislatures on a cycle by cycle basis.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bill to Fund Presidential Primary Moving Quickly Through Idaho Legislature

Now that both chambers of the Idaho legislature have passed SB 1066, the measure to establish a stand-alone presidential primary in March -- the body needs to move on legislation to actually appropriate funds in order to conduct the election. To that end, the state Senate earlier this week quickly proposed and passed legislation to allot $2 million to the secretary of state budget for the purpose of funding the new presidential primary election (assuming Governor Otter signs the SB 1066).

SB 1178 was introduced on Monday, March 30, made a quick stop in the Senate State Affairs Committee (garnering a do pass recommendation) on Tuesday and had passed the chamber by a 21-11 vote by Wednesday. The legislation has been transmitted to the House where, if the Senate vote is any indication, it will move quickly next week and the vote will largely resemble the original vote in the chamber(s) on SB 1066, the bill .

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

South Carolina Bill to Streamline Presidential Primary Funding Becomes Law

Back in March the South Carolina state House took up, considered and passed HB 4732. The legislation sought to clarify the method under which the Palmetto state would fund its quadrennial presidential preference primary.

As FHQ has detailed previously, South Carolina -- up to the 2008 cycle -- had left the funding of the presidential primaries of the two major parties up to the respective state parties. The dates, delegate allocation rules and funding were all the domain of the state parties before 2008. In the lead up to that election cycle, however, the South Carolina legislature shifted the funding burden to the state government while leaving the other roles to the state parties. The 2007 change to the law allowed the South Carolina State Election Commission the ability to set the filing fee while granting the parties the power to issue an additional certification fee.

But there were problems with that change. The most direct problem was that there was a reference to the 2008 election in the law. That meant that the alteration technically had a sunset provision that was not fixed prior to the 2012 presidential election cycle. More indirectly, there was in 2011-12 some question as to the process by which funds would be disbursed to the counties for implementation. In question was whether the State Election Commission divvied those funds out to the counties ahead of the election or reimbursed the counties after they had footed the bill for conducting the presidential preference primary election. The latter had seemingly been the method by which funds were disbursed/reimbursed, but that left the counties -- some of the larger ones -- crying foul in 2011.

The bill -- HB 4732 -- rectifying the first issue was unanimously passed by the state House in March and ultimately taken up and passed by the state Senate; also by a unanimous vote (in late May). The indirect intra-governmental dispute (state versus counties) over funding/reimbursement was essentially fixed in early 2012 when the counties' claim was denied by the South Carolina Supreme Court.1

This 2014 legislation, after garnering unanimous support in both chambers of the South Carolina General Assembly, made the June signature of Governor Nikki Haley (R) nothing more than a formality. The change took effect immediately, thus clarifying the process by which South Carolina presidential primaries are funded.

1 The counties' petition concerned the fact that after 2008 the funding mechanism should have reverted to the state parties. However the state supreme court countered that while the law did refer only to 2008, the state budget thereafter had made allowances for funding the presidential primary.

Recent Posts:
Jindal Signature Nudges Louisiana Presidential Primary Up Two Weeks

Missouri Presidential Primary Shifts Back to March Following Nixon Signature

Louisiana House Concurs on 2016 Presidential Primary Move to Early March

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bill to Clarify Funding of South Carolina Presidential Primary Passes State House

The South Carolina state House on March 26 unanimously passed HB 4732. The record will show that the legislation does little more than remove references to the 2008 presidential election cycle in the current statute, but the story is slightly more complicated than that.

It was for that cycle -- 2008 -- that South Carolina opted to change its to-that-point traditional practice of state parties directly funding their own delegate selection events and settling the rules (including the scheduling of the primary itself) for conducting the contests. The rules-making function remained with the state parties, but legislation ahead of the 2008 nomination process shifted the funding from the state parties to the South Carolina State Elections Commission (and the counties).1 When 2012 rolled around, the clause in the statute pertaining to the funding of the presidential primary -- specifically the 2008 and only the 2008 primary -- left questions about which governmental entity would fund the election. A disconnect developed between the State Elections Commission and the counties.

This 2014 legislation seeks to clarify that issue. Technically, the state parties collect the filing fees from the candidates and transmit the funds to the State Elections Commission to conduct the election. Any surplus (filing fees minus election expenditure) stays with the state to be used for similar purposes in future elections.

This bill still has to be considered and passed by the South Carolina state Senate and signed by the governor. There seems to be broad support, however. In any event, this discrepancy did not affect South Carolina's ability to conduct the first in the South primary in 2012 and would not in 2016 even if this legislation dies at some point in the legislative process.

1 Though state parties have the final say on (the conditions for) how they will select delegates to the national convention, when the funding mechanism moves from the state parties to the state government, the state government typically takes on the date-setting function as well. State parties can opt out of that set up and fund their own separate primary or caucuses, but few give up what amounts to "free money". South Carolina is an exception to that rule. When the funding crossed over to state governmental hands, the date-setting role stayed with the parties. That was a very obvious nod to the position the Palmetto state plays in the presidential nomination process; preserving its first in the South status.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Funding Still an Issue for South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary

The question of how the South Carolina Republican presidential primary will be paid for is one that simply won't die. The story has moved from a battle between the state government and the state Republican Party to one more between the state party and elected Republicans on the county level. The latter is more of an intra-party battle; particularly given the Republican Party dominance in the Upstate of South Carolina.

At issue now is that the Spartanburg and Greenville County Councils are considering a lawsuit against the  South Carolina Elections Commission over what local officials are calling an "unfunded mandate" -- that they are being made to disburse funds not accounted for in county budgets for a party function. Yes, on the surface this looks like more of a state versus municipal government dispute. There is that element to this, but again, given the nature in which Republican partisanship permeates the state, much less the region of the state in question, it becomes just as much an issue of tensions between state and local Republicans.

For our purposes here at FHQ, this isn't entirely meaningful. This dispute will not affect the South Carolina Republican Party's ability to stage a presidential primary next year. However, what this does do is call into question the ability of the party to pull off a contest that operates smoothly. Once the looming time crunch is layered in as well, the picture becomes even murkier. If these questions concerning the funding of the primary persist simultaneous with the reality that this is going to be an mid-January to early February contest, the likelihood that the contest can be held without significant problems drops. Now, if the results end up being one-sided for Perry or Romney or whomever, this will not be an issue. Yet, if the primary is a close one, there could conceivably be challenges brought because corners were cut to hold the contest in a cost-effective manner (fewer polls workers, etc.).

Now, this may prove to be something of a false alarm ex post facto, but it warrants watching between now and when the South Carolina primary rolls around.

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Idaho Republicans Drop Presidential Primary in Favor of Super Tuesday Caucuses

In an effort to bring presidential candidates into the Gem state, Idaho Republicans on Saturday, July 16 at their summer State Central Committee meeting, voted in favor of a resolution to drop the state-funded May primary as the means of allocating delegates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The May contest, already a beauty contest for Idaho Democrats, is now completely meaningless with Idaho Republicans joining the their counterparts across the aisle in allocating delegates via caucuses. And all of this comes after the Idaho legislature moved the primary up a week in May during the 2011 session as part of an elections consolidation bill. As Idaho Republican executive director, Jonathan Parker said (via the Spokesman Review):
“It would just make it irrelevant. ...So (Idaho Secretary of State) Ben (Ysursa) and I have talked about reaching out to the Democrats … (about) getting a bill through that would just eliminate it altogether.”
That is one thing to come out of this vote. There are a handful of states where one party uses a state-funded primary option for delegate allocation while the other uses caucuses. Idaho Democrats have traditionally used party-funded caucuses in lieu of the primary. Similarly, both Montana Republicans and Democrats have moved back and forth between the two options in the post-reform era. And just this cycle, Washington state's legislature was prompted to eliminate the Evergreen state's presidential primary for 2012 because neither state party has fully utilized the primary option since a ballot initiative brought the contest into existence in the 1990s. Idaho, then, joins Washington in some respects as a state that has completely transitioned this cycle to holding caucuses in both parties with a meaningless or eliminated presidential primary.

The other item to come out of the vote in Moscow, Idaho over the weekend is the proposition that this move was made to attract attention from the candidates. Again, Parker via
"I don't know why it took so long for the Idaho Republican party to make this move."
"By moving up to Super Tuesday, it's the hope of the central committee and the state party to attract presidential candidates to Idaho, not just to raise money, but to actually campaign for Idaho's votes."
The intent is not new, but in execution, this sort of move rarely or never works out as planned. If Idaho Republicans had chosen a date on which their caucuses would have been the only ongoing contest, they may have had more luck in gaining attention. As such, they will have one among many contests on March 6, and most of the many are states in a different region of the country (the South). That said, I suspect Idaho will gain a few visits from Mitt Romney. As FHQ speculated in the context of a potential Utah move to the same date and later the early talk about the vote on this Idaho resolution, Utah, Idaho and Colorado would serve as something of a Romney firewall on a day when the former Massachusetts governor is likely to suffer a fair number of setbacks in the other contests in the South (and setbacks is putting it rather diplomatically depending on how the early contests in this race go). Romney did win in Utah and Colorado in 2008 and was out of the race by the time the Republican contest got to Idaho in May of that year. Now, it should be noted that caucuses are indeed a different ballgame, but if the other candidates are focused on the southern contests, Romney may be ceded the caucuses out west that day. He would start out with something of an organizational advantage in each. Will Idaho Republicans get the boost they are looking for? That depends. If they are looking to get multiple candidates into the state, probably not. But if they expect to bring in Romney, they will probably get what they are after as most of the other candidates will focus on the southern contests on the same date.

Thanks to Tony Roza at The Green Papers for sending this news along to FHQ.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Idaho Republicans Considering Super Tuesday Caucuses

Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman is reporting today that the Idaho Republican Party is discussing the possibility of abandoning the mid-May presidential primary for earlier caucuses. The party's State Central Committee will take up the caucus proposal passed by a subcommittee recently during its July 16 meeting.

Now, as the article states, Idaho Democrats have traditionally used a caucus in lieu of the state funded primary. State Democrats have already opted to once again hold caucuses, selecting an April 14 date. Republicans, too, now seem willing to give up that state funding by funding their own delegate selection event at a time on the presidential primary calendar that may provide the state with some measure of influence over the identity of the Republican nominee. That would leave a meaningless beauty contest Idaho primary in May at the presidential level. Idaho is a state that holds concurrent presidential and state/local primaries, and the latter contests would make the May primary partially meaningful.

One footnote that I would add to all of this is that this is an interesting development in light of Monday's late night news out of Utah. Recall that I made the argument yesterday that the Romney campaign would want a Utah primary on March 6, coupled with contests in Colorado and later Hawaii (March 13) to counteract the former Massachusetts governor's perceived weakness in the South. A Colorado/Idaho/Utah series of wins would partially counter losses in the host of southern states holding primaries during the first two weeks of March.

Theoretically, this sounds good. Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen recently tweeted that Romney is the "key to the Mountain West for GOP" in the general election. Further, he adds, "It really might be fair to say GOP nominating anyone other than Romney locks down 2008 pick ups of CO/NM/NV for Obama, puts AZ on the board." I should emphasize that this is in relation to the general election and not the primaries, so it isn't the same thing. However, Mitt Romney won nominating contests in all three (Colorado, Idaho and Utah) in 2008. Caucuses in Colorado and Idaho may be a different animal in 2012, though. They would be potentially more difficult to control. However, if all the other candidates are focused on the southern contests, Romney may be able to focus his resources on organizing in those three western contests with only moderate (or even token) expenditures in the South.

And yeah, I'm willing to bet that this caucus idea came up at least once during the fundraiser Romney held -- and mentioned in the Statesman article -- in Boise last week. Call it a hunch.

Monday, June 27, 2011

An Update on the Situation with the South Carolina Presidential Primary

Well, that caucus thing isn't happening. According to Danny Yadron at the Washington Wire blog:1

“That is not on the table and will not happen,” state GOP Executive Director Matt
Moore told Washington Wire. “We got a good start on fund-raising.”

Later, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson clarified the issue of either of the state parties contracting the South Carolina Elections Commission -- the institution that carried out the 2008 presidential primaries for the state/parties -- to do the same in 2012, but with state party funding. Wilson's statement:
"Unless the statute is repealed, or a court concludes otherwise, we believe the answer to your question is yes," the opinion states. "The State Election Commission possesses the authority either to conduct the Presidential Preference Primary itself, or, in the alternative, to contract with the parties to do so."
That frees the South Carolina Republican Party to use the commission, but still puts the party in the position of having to raise the money necessary to hold a primary in 2012. The only remaining piece of that puzzle is how much of the estimated $1.5 million will the party have to raise. Nearly $700,000 left over from the 2010 cycle had been earmarked in the budget that passed the state legislature as available for the primary. The question was whether Governor Nikki Haley (R) would veto that part of the bill. The answer, due tomorrow, appears to be yes according to anonymous sources close to Haley.

In summary, then, there will be no last minute substitute caucuses, and the party-funded primary can be run by the South Carolina Elections Commission.

1 Yadron also tagged the line, "The state Democratic Party doesn't plan to hold a 2012 primary." onto the end of the post. The South Carolina Democratic Party's 2012 delegate selection plan proposal seems to refute that notion. There may not be a competitive Democratic primary in the Palmetto state, but it looks like they intend to hold a primary.

What's Happening with the Funding of the South Carolina Primary?

Not much really.

Much has been made over the last week about the fate of the South Carolina primary. The "will it be funded/not funded?" question is not a new one. On Friday, FHQ exchanged emails with Politico's Kendra Marr and my general sentiments have not changed since then given the most recent news from south of the border here in North Carolina. Here's what I told her:
I don't think I'm as pessimistic about SC as some of the things I've read about the situation there this week. I think the most important thing to note is that the state parties in SC have traditionally picked up the tab for their nomination contests. 2008 was the first time the legislature stepped in to pass legislation to institute state funding.

My take home is that the SC GOP will find a way to fund the contest and that it will be just as important to the Republican nomination as it always has been (assuming there is enough time between the FL primary and SC's).
The important thing is to take a step back and provide some context. The fact that state funding of the presidential primary was new in 2008 is extremely important in this instance. FHQ made the case back in March in our write up of the final days of the South Carolina state House's final consideration of the budget that the funding of the primary was new and was expendable because it had not been institutionalized as it is many other states. That is still the case, but let's look between the lines of what the various (Republican -- the ones in power) political actors are saying in the Palmetto state.

No, wait. I won't even give you the run down. Let's say that you, as a party, had funding for the contest in 2008 (or as an individual or interest group on a particular issue or project) and your funding was being threatened. Wouldn't your first order of business be to make the case for why said funding was necessary and what the "dire" consequences would be if that funding was stripped. In the instance of the South Carolina Republican Party, you may even have to mention that holding a caucus was necessary and that that would affect the amount of money and attention the presidential candidates and media would pay to the state.

It might come up.

Oh, it already has:

“It would be the death of a tradition that began after Reagan,” [Columbia-based GOP operative, Richard] Quinn said of ending the primary, which developed the reputation as “the place where presidents are chosen. It would be a tragedy,” Quinn said.

Quinn added a caucus likely would not include the independent voters whose turnout built the GOP primary, which does not require voters be registered Republicans to vote.

Again, FHQ just isn't that pessimistic about the situation. And we should be just as careful in our discussions of South Carolina's contest as we have been with Iowa's caucuses and the doomsday warnings about how candidates wouldn't pay attention to a contest in a state that is "lurching" to the right. The problem is the same really. Switching to a caucus would not be the "death knell" for South Carolina. It may be the death knell for Jon Huntsman's presidential aspirations -- a death knell that is likely to come before the nomination race reaches the Palmetto state anyway -- but it wouldn't necessarily be the end for South Carolina's role in the nomination process. Do caucuses, all other things equal, receive less money and attention from the candidates and the media than primary states? Yes they do as Paul Gurian's research has shown us. But allow me to stand on the shoulders of giants here with my own research. Early states matter more. Early states that have the spotlight to themselves matter even more. South Carolina, whether primary or caucus, will have one of those first four spots. Even if Florida's Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee decides to hold a January 3, 2012 primary, South Carolina, along with Iowa, New Hampshire and probably Nevada will jump the Sunshine state or any other state attempting to infringe on their first in the nation turf. That is just how this thing works until the national parties decide to adopt a different strategy for the nomination process.

And that brings us back to the point I was trying to make in drawing a line between Iowa and South Carolina. What we're really talking about here is that the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, is not spending the "requisite" amount of time in either state and that is being viewed as an indication of the downfall of these contests as important players in Republican presidential nomination races. Well, Mitt isn't doing that bad in either Iowa or South Carolina. His strategy is working for now and may work for 2012. But that doesn't demonstrate that Iowa and South Carolina won't be significant players in future nominations if the parties continue to protect their privileged positions. It would indicate that Romney made a calculated decision after his 2008 experience and did what was necessary to win a nomination (assuming the former Massachusetts governor does end up winning the nomination -- anything but a foregone conclusion) in the 2012 cycle. That's it. If Romney wins both Iowa and South Carolina, they will have been important. He will have won where he was not supposed to and that will essentially end the race.

Now, let's get back to South Carolina's situation. This discussion is nothing more than a last ditch effort to secure funding for the South Carolina Republican Party to hold a primary. If they cannot save that funding, I fully expect to the state party to do what former chair, Katon Dawson, said they would do:
“Raise the money and partner with the Election Commission,” Dawson said, when asked what the S.C. GOP should do. “They’re going to have to man up and get the thing done.”
And if the party doesn't do that, FHQ expects them to hold an early stand-alone caucus that won't include independent voters and won't hurt anyone but candidates seeking those independents' votes. Romney might like them, but it will likely really hurt someone like Huntsman who is counting on those sorts of voters to help him in New Hampshire and South Carolina to propel him into Florida. Romney doesn't necessarily need South Carolina for the nomination. He has other paths. Other candidates don't.

This has been a lot to look at. What's the take home? South Carolina will hold an early primary or caucus and the contest will have an impact on the outcome of the Republican nomination race. And that will be the case whether Governor Nikki Haley strikes the primary's funding from the budget via her veto or not.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Funding the South Carolina Presidential Primary

State funding.

Party funding.

State funding.

Party funding.

Tuesday was an interesting day in the South Carolina state House. On a day that saw the chamber debate Governor Nikki Haley's budget, much was on the line; including $1 million set aside for the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary next year. But Governor Haley didn't really get her way.

...not at first anyway.

Though the Republican-controlled House rejected that part of the governor's budget, maintaining state funding of the presidential primary, South Carolina Republican Party chairwoman, Karen Floyd, responded later in the day and offered a compromise of sorts:

South Carolina's GOP chairwoman says Republicans will try to raise private money to run the 2012 presidential primary but she's looking for taxpayer money as a backup.

Karen Floyd said Tuesday it would be prudent for legislators to set aside money for the primary to ensure first-in-the-South contest will pass legal muster and assure it is beyond reproach.

This is particularly pertinent given the discussions here at FHQ since the California bill to eliminate its separate presidential primary -- moving it back to June with the other statewide and local primaries to save the state $90 million -- was introduced back in January. Subsequent state actions have increasingly brought the issue of cost savings through combining or canceling presidential primaries to the fore. It is an evolving trend that the AP partially shed light on today. [I'll hopefully have some longer form comments on that tomorrow.]

And while the situation in South Carolina seems to fit the cost savings narrative, a bit of context is in order. Up until 2008, state parties in South Carolina paid for party-run primaries and caucuses. But the state legislature took on the financial burden four years ago while continuing to allow the state parties the freedom to select the date on which their held their delegate selection events. Four years later it is en vogue to reconsider the cost of presidential primaries -- or at least the prudence of holding them separately from in-window primaries for state and local offices. In other words, it is totally out of left field for the governor in South Carolina to ask the legislature to return the spending levels on the primary to pre-2008 levels, especially considering the history. That the effort failed before a Republican-led chamber, though, speaks to how much the funding would help a cash-strapped state party -- $5000 cash on hand at the end of 2010 -- on one hand. On the other, it speaks to some level to how quickly the process has become institutionalized in just four years:
Opponents, including House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Cooper, (R-Anderson County) argued that having the state pay for and run the primaries would add credibility to the process.
Rep. Tracy Edge, R-Myrtle Beach, said the state has been embarrassed before by presidential primary problems. "I would think the taxpayers would rather spend a couple million bucks here than not be embarrassed on the national stage like we will be if we don't rise to the occasion," Edge said.
Funding aside, though, South Carolina Republicans still have the flexibility to choose the earliest date they can to stay ahead of all but Iowa, New Hampshire and maybe Nevada.

Friday, January 7, 2011

South Carolina Has State Funded Presidential Primaries

Richard Winger over at Ballot Access News today -- in describing the introduction of a bill in Oklahoma to have the state parties pay for presidential primaries* -- mentioned that South Carolina remained the only state where the state parties still picked up the tab for presidential primary elections. That did used to be the case. However, in 2007 the South Carolina legislature passed S 99 (text and history of the bill below) which gave the funding power to the state while keeping the date-setting control in the hands of the state party committees. The bill passed and was later vetoed by Governor Mark Sanford. But that veto was overridden by the legislature. At no point during the remainder of that 2007-2008 session nor during the subsequent 2009-2010 session did the legislature act to reverse what it had accomplished in S 99.

Should Oklahoma pass HB 1057, it would become the only state where the parties pay for their own presidential primaries.

...just like South Carolina used to.

Text of S 99:

*Note that this is a similar bill to the one introduced in Oklahoma two years ago that would have done the same thing. HB 1340 got bottled up and died in committee when the legislature adjourned for the year in 2009. The spirit of that bill lives on in HB 1057.

Are you following FHQ on Twitter and/or Facebook? Click on the links to join in.