Friday, August 17, 2007

Michigan is the latest monkeywrench in the 2008 primary calendar

On a day when I went forward with a summary post of what has happened in terms of primary and caucus movement for the 2008 cycle, Michigan hit everyone (or those of us paying attention) with a bombshell. The state is apparently close to moving to January 15 according to Chuck Todd with NBC. Again, just today I made a post discussing both January 29 and February 5 as possibilities for a Michigan move. It looks like the legislature will kick things off next week with a new proposal in the Senate.

Now, what are the implications? Michigan on January 15 means New Hampshire won't be going on the 12th. After South Carolina's GOP moved to January 19, this seemed like an outside possibility, but now the three days between New Hampshire and Michigan will surely not be enough of a buffer for leaders in New Hampshire. January 8 is the next possibility, but as I discussed last week after the South Carolina move, that would push Iowa to December 31. This is the case because state law requires Iowa to precede and other contest by eight days. Neither New Year's Eve nor Christmas Eve is in play, so that pushes Iowa to go on December 17 at the latest. As I said last week, the most likely scenario is Iowa on December 10 and New Hampshire eight days later on December 18. If that happens Michigan may move again to January 8, where Senator Carl Levin apparently wanted the state to land, if not before.

This just got interesting...again.

An update on what's been happening over the summer

Who has moved, who hasn't and who hasn't decided for the 2008 cycle (since the last update)?

One thing to note: Deadlines for states to set their primary or caucus dates.
The Republican National Committee during their 2004 convention set the cut off at the first Tuesday in September (Sept. 4, 2007). All this is laid out in Rule 15.C.11 of the GOP rules. The sanctions for violation can be found in Rule 16.

The Democratic party requires that state parties submit their delegate selection plans to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee by September 16, 2007 (Rule 1.E). Since the state plans are to include dates for delegate selection events (Rule 11), Sept. 16 is the deadline to set these dates. Violations of the timing rules can be found in Rule 20.C.1.a & b.

It may take a lot of scrolling but you can find all the rules (and sanctions) mentioned if you follow the links for each party above.

While still up in the air, the speculation that Arizona would move to February 5, 2008 has been going around for quite some time. In fact, the first post on this blog shows the primary calendar as compiled by the National Association of Secretaries of State on March 20, 2007, and Arizona is penciled in as a state with a contest on February 5. The NASS's current calendar has Arizona's primary listed as set to occur on February 26, the same day as the Michigan primary. What make Arizona unique when it comes to setting presidential primary dates is that the governor can issue a proclamation to change the date. State law sets the fourth Tuesday in February as the date on which the primary is to occur. In 2004 however, Governor Janet Napolitano issued the first of these proclamations to move the state's contest from that date to the first Tuesday in February (February 3). Speculation continues that she will repeat the action during this cycle.

Florida threw the whole primary system on its head when Governor Charlie Crist signed HB 537 into law on May 21 (see press release from the governor's office). The bill called for moving the state's 2008 primary from the first Tuesday in March to January 29, the same day as the Democratic National Committee-allowed South Carolina Democratic primary. Florida's legislature went against both national parties in setting the date outside of the prescribed window in which delegate selection contests are to take place.

Since that time the South Carolina GOP has moved its primary from February 2 to January 19 in response to Florida's move. In addition, the Florida Democratic party has since buckled under the pressure from the national party to move back inside the window period or be sanctioned with a loss of delegates. Both Ballot Access News and have reported that the state Democratic party's Executive Committee has asked the state legislature to move the primary back a week to February 5 (I am somewhat hesitant to go forward with this given that neither site provides any documentation of any such occurrence. However, in the interest of a broader talking point, I'll throw it out there.). The Republican-controlled legislature reconvenes for a special session next month, but more than likely won't be interested in helping out its Democratic brethren. This puts the Democrats in Florida in a bit of a quandary: stay and accept the national party's sanctions or move back a week and fund its own primary or caucus. So Florida isn't officially set, at least on the Democratic side. Well, I don't suppose it is set on the GOP side either since the January 29 primary would trigger sanctions from the Republican National Committee as well.

Iowa: see SC post from Monday for the latest speculation.

The 2008 presidential primary in Michigan is currently scheduled for February 26, or three weeks after the February 5 blockbuster. However, two bills are making the rounds in the state Senate that would change that date. SB 624 would move the primary to January 29 for 2008 and set future presidential primaries to take place on the first Tuesday in February. SB 625 would permanently move the primary to the first Tuesday in February for 2008 and all subsequent cycles.
Ballot Access News adds an interesting bit of information. These bills would also require that voters choose which party's ballot they want when checking in at the polling station (as opposed to choosing in the voting booth in the past). This sort of primary is discouraged by the DNC and is the explanation for why Michigan Democrats have not recently had a presidential primary as a means of allocating the state's delegates. I don't suppose Michigan primary voters ever really had much of a choice in the first place with the Democrats not openly participating in the statewide primary. All that accomplished was to allow Democratic and independent voters to vote in the Republican primary (with the Democrats holding a caucus at some other time).

New Hampshire: see SC post from Monday for the latest speculation.

New Mexico:
The Democratic Party in New Mexico on August 2 submitted to the national party their delegate selection plan for 2008. This included the method by and date on which the Democratic delegates will be allocated. New Mexico Democrats have decided to hold their caucuses on February 5. This shift toward party determination of date and method of delegate selection took place prior to the 2004 cycle. Governor Bill Richardson signed into law H 1039 which left the decision up to the state parties. If either party chose to hold a primary then it would be held on the traditional first Tuesday in June date with the other state and local primaries. If however, either of the parties wanted to hold a delegate selection event at an earlier time they could opt to hold one. The law does not explicitly say whether the state parties foot the bill for these events, though one would assume they do. At this time, New Mexico Republicans have yet to decide on a date. Speculation exists through both the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Conference of State Legislatures that the GOP will join their Democratic brethren in New Mexico by moving to February 5.

Ohio (Up in the air, but not really):
A bill proposal to move Ohio's 2008 primary in line with Florida's January 29 contest in the Ohio Senate registered more than a blip on the radar in mid-July. At least the bill (SB 202) is up on the legislature's web page now. But it doesn't seem like it is going to go anywhere. It hasn't been assigned to committee yet after nearly a month. For the time being, it looks like Ohio will hold a first Tuesday in March primary.

It is difficult to get a feel for what Pennsylvania is going to do as far as its 2008 presidential primary is concerned. The date has been up in the air most of this year. The National Association of Secretaries of State on its constantly updated calendar (There's a link to a pdf of the calendar on the site's front page.) shows that the state legislature is still considering moves to either February 12 or March 4 from the fourth Tuesday in April. The bill that would move the primary to February 12 (HB 289) is the one that has received the most recent attention. Having passed the House, it is now under consideration in the Senate. There has not been any action on the March 4 proposals (that I could track down) since this past March. SB 516 was cited in an earlier post and is the bill that most "recently" included a provision to move the state's primary to March 4, 2008. It also would move the primary to March 6 for the 2012 cycle. Regardless, Pennsylvania still will not be a player in the de facto national primary on February 5.

: see previous post.

Alaska: Both the state Democratic and Republican parties opted to hold their caucuses and district conventions, respectively, on February 5 as of May 29, 2007 (read more from CQ here).

Arkansas: see previous post.

: see previous post.

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed SB 1184 into law on June 25. This moves the presidential primary in Connecticut from the old Super Tuesday (first Tuesday in March) to the new Super Duper Tuesday (February 5, 2008).

After the back and forth between the House and Senate on the last day of the Georgia General Assembly's session, a measure made it through in the form of an amendment to a broader elections bill that would move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5 from the first week in March. The original House bill calling for the same action didn't make the cut; getting the ax on the final day and causing the insertion of the amendment in the above bill. Governor Sonny Perdue signed the bill into law on May 29 (see the governor's press release and brace yourself, it's exciting). Here is a write-up from CQ.

Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law HB 0426 on June 20. The bill moves the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5.

Kansas: Though the Kansas legislature failed to pass a bill to institute a presidential primary for 2008, the state parties both decided to position their respective caucuses in February. The Democrats joined the queue for February 5 and the Republicans decided to wait until the weekend after the rush with a Saturday, February 9 caucus. Both moves are not being widely reported on the usual sites but there are a couple of articles here and here.

Louisiana: see previous post (no further changes).

Maryland: see previous post.

New Jersey: see previous post.

New York: see previous post.

North Dakota:
Buried deep in an AP story fronted by a headline touting John Edwards' troop plans was news that North Dakota had decided to move the state's 2008 caucuses to February 5. This was an ominous sign at odds with the argument that candidates would visit the state given by Secretary of State, Al Jaeger just one day prior on May 24.

South Carolina: see previous post.

Tennessee: see previous post.

Washington: A nine member committee (see the press release from the Secretary of State's office) made up of Washington state political leaders made the decision in June to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 19. Since that decision was made, the Washington Democratic party opted not to allocate delegates based on the primary and the Republican party will only distribute 51% of the state's delegates to the Republican convention through the contest. So while the state moved the primary from May into February (the same day as the Wisconsin primary), it is a mostly non-binding contest.

OUT (tried to move but did not):
: see previous post.

North Carolina:
Senate bill 168 was introduced in February 2007 but was stuck in committee when the General Assembly in Raleigh adjourned on August 2. With no special session in sight prior to when the national parties require states to have presidential primaries and caucuses set, North Carolina will continue to have a first week in May primary (May 6, 2008).

Since Oregon's legislature adjourned for the year on June 28 and no action was taken since April on the one bill (HB 2084) which would have moved Oregon's 2008 presidential primary to February 5, the state appears destined to hold it primary toward the end of the process (on May 20).

Rhode Island:
The state legislature's session ended in late June with no presidential primary movement. H5636 died in committee in the House as did a similar bill (S740) which had passed on the Senate side. Both plans called for moving the primary from March to February 5, 2008.

The plan that made its way through the Texas legislature (HB 2017) to move the primary from the first Tuesday in March to February 5 did not fail because it didn't have bipartisan support in both chambers. It failed because of opposition from both in and outside the capitol. County election clerks fretted over the impact the move would have on local elections (Texas law requires that the presidential and the state and local primaries be held on the same date.). Office-holding candidates seeking higher office (including some in the legislature, no doubt) also protested because filing to run would take place in 2007 (the year before the election), which under the Texas Constitution would force them to vacate their currently held offices. The last action taken on HB 2017 was on May 23, just four days before the legislature adjourned.

I'll supplement this later with other states that have made or tried to make moves, but this post is a good summary of what the big players for the 2008 cycle have done.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Novice blogger that I am (I guess I'm better at the archiving part.), I had the comments settings on the site set at "only registered users." Well, "anyone" can comment now. So have at it folks who want to comment.

Big thanks to Audrey Haynes for the heads up on that.

Also, I hope to have big update on the events of the summer (and before in some cases) up later today. Perhaps that'll give people something on which to comment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So South Carolina's Moving. Who're they taking with them?

Ever since March, when the Florida House first advanced the notion of a plan to move the state's 2008 presidential primary onto South Carolina's turf, South Carolina Republican Party Chair, Katon Dawson has been threatening to move the state's 2008 GOP primary. So when Florida finalized plans in late May to move to January 29th, the wheels were set in motion. I hesitate to call the South Carolina GOP's move the apex of primary movement for the '08 cycle, but it is the current "most consequential" move.

The game of one-upsmanship now shifts to Iowa and New Hampshire. State law in New Hampshire requires that the state's primary occur seven days prior to any similar contest. The South Carolina GOP's move to January 19 now puts that contest three days ahead of where New Hampshire is tentatively set and on the same day as the caucuses in Nevada. That, in turn, means that the contest in New Hampshire will take place no later than Saturday, January 12.

Now, when all this occurred, my first thought was that New Hampshire would not hold their primary on a Saturday, pushing the primary to the preceding Tuesday, January 8. That, in turn, would cause the Iowa caucuses to fall on New Year's Eve if the state were to maintain the same eight day buffer as in past cycles. And there is no way that is happening. The week prior to that is no good either, obviously. So to beat the holiday rush, Iowa would have to push forward all the way to Monday, December 17; over three weeks ahead of New Hampshire. That's not happening, part two enters here. New Hampshire would not allow there to be that much of a time span between the two contests.

At that point I envisioned both states working together to schedule their contests in early to mid-December: Iowa on December 10 and New Hampshire following on December 18. Those two states would beat the holidays and leave the nomination battle to heat up in the rest of the states starting with Nevada's caucuses and the South Carolina GOP's primary on January 19. To step back and look at the one month between New Hampshire and South Carolina/Nevada in that scenario, is to see something of a solution to the compression so many pundits bemoan as the darkest side of frontloading. However, it breaks something of an unspoken, cardinal rule in presidential politics: mainly, that an election cannot take place in the year prior to the year it is supposed to take place.

Primary and caucus contests breaking through into 2007 is a notion with which many have problems. In fact Iowa governor, Chet Culver, has stepped back from the brink and has attempted to assure everyone that he will work to keep the state's caucuses in 2008. This is made slightly easier by a law change in New Hampshire. The state legislature there passed a law freeing the secretary of state to set the primary date on a day other than Tuesday. That means that a Saturday, January 12 contest is a possibility. The ball is New Hampshire secretary of state, Bill Gardner's court now. What New Hampshire does will affect what Iowa does and that is the key in whether this presidential nomination race officially begins in 2007. And with the way things have gone in this cycle, I wouldn't eliminate that as a possibility.

There's one other factor to note: The parties' deadlines for setting the calendar are looming (September), so while that may force a decision out of either Iowa or New Hampshire, both may take a wait and see approach, letting the other state's positions solidify before deciding themselves

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ohio Looking to Crash the Party?

After saying in April that the state's presidential primary for 2008 was fine where it was--on the first Tuesday in March--the Ohio state legislature has reconsidered its position. Senator Eric Kearney of Cincinnati introduced a bill on Friday, cosponsored by fellow Democrats, Tom Roberts of Dayton and Shirley Smith of Cleveland, which would move the state's presidential primary for next year from March to January 29th. This is the same date as the South Carolina Democratic primary and the rule-bending primary for the state of Florida. It may be due to the actions of the latter that this action was taken in Ohio in the first place. Florida's, as has been discussed in earlier posts, is a primary outside of the parties' sanctioned windows--February 5 to the first week in June--in which primaries can be held.

At this time, the Ohio General Assembly website has not been updated to include information on bills introduced or acted upon on Friday, so information on the specifics of the bill are lacking at this time. However, it would appear that the bill has very little momentum. The Democratic Party in Ohio continues to support the March 4th primary date and the GOP, while not taking a position on the subject at this time, would not necessarily support a bill sponsored
three Senate Democrats.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Illinois Moves Closer to Feb. 5

The Illinios Senate yesterday (May 15) passed HB 426 which will move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5 from the third Tuesday in March. As the articles here and here indicate one of the prime motivations was to provide homegrown candidate, Barack Obama, an early possible win to bolster his campaign for the Democratic nomination. The plan now heads to Governor Blagojevich (D) who supports the move. If that comes to pass, Illinois would join other delegate-rich states, California, New York and New Jersey in addition to possibly fifteen to twenty more states on February 5.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Florida is a Crist Signature Away from Jan. 29

I may have been a bit presumptuous last week when I said that the Florida legislature's plan to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 29 was ready for the governor's signature. It had passed the Senate but had not cleared the conference committee phase. The legislature took care of that yesterday (5-3-07) and Governor Crist has indicated that he will sign the bill.

And so the standoff begins. The national parties say that state delegations to the nominating conventions will be penalized for scheduling their primaries before the designated window. The Democrats are even attempting to sanction candidates who campaign in offending states. Proponents of the move within Florida's legislature--and some of this came out of Tallahassee yesterday--argue that those rules will eventually be suspended, especially for an electorally important state like Florida. Time will tell whether the national party rules for this cycle have teeth.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Add Tennessee and Subtract Kansas

Tennessee's plan (HB 2211) to inch up a week from February 12 to February 5, was signed into law by Governor Bresden on April 30. Here and here are the only current accounts of the move.

In Kansas, the dust has yet to fully settle on the proceedings of this last few days. As I pointed out yesterday and late last week, Kansas had moved from out to in to potentially out again in a matter of days. The plans (S310 and S320) to establish a primary or to have an early primary seemed dead once the regular session of the legislature finished with no further action. The plan was revived during the legislative wrap up session with an amendment attached by Rep. Tom Sawyer to a Senate appropriations bill. That House substituted version passed the House but failed to make it through a budget conference committee on April 30. Here and here are a couple of summaries of the final legislative action. Though this has not been mentioned yet in any source I have come across, the caucuses that Kansas' Democrats and Republicans will have to fall back on have not set their dates for 2008.

Rhode Island Plan Passes First Test

The Senate of the Rhode Island General Assembly yesterday passed by a vote of 29-6 a plan (S 740) to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to February 5. Though Rhode Island has held its presidential primary on the first Tuesday in March for the last several cycles, this plan calls for the primary to be moved from March 18, 2008 (the third Tuesday in March) to the February 5 date twenty plus states have moved to or are considering moving to. This plan now moves to the House side where a similar plan (H 5636) was introduced in February but has since been stuck in the Judiciary Committee.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Maryland's In, Montana's Out and Kansas is in Limbo

As I discussed in my post last week, both the Senate (SB 1025) and House (HB 1434) plans to move Maryland's 2008 presidential primary to February 12 had passed both chambers. Little else was clear however. A check today though revealed that the Senate bill was signed into law by Governor O'Malley on April 24. This is documented in the link to the bill above, but is not verified through the press releases posted on the governor's website. At this point, it looks as though Maryland has joined Virginia for a mini-regional primary the week after the February 5 smörgåsbord.

Futher west, the plan (HB 797) to give the Montana secretary of state the authority to set the date of the 2008 presidential primary some time in February or March died on the Senate side. After passing the House, the plan was transmitted to the Senate and referred to the State Administration Committee where several hearings were scheduled and canceled. The bill was deemed dead in the committee on April 27.

Things are a bit more muddled in Kansas. Last week the House passed a substituted appropriations bill (SB 357) that included language requiring the secretary of state to certify to the governor and legislative leaders before November 1 of this year that the state would not only hold a 2008 presidential primary but that it would be held on February 2. Here's the rub though: The bill's history indicates that the bill has been passed around both chambers subsequently, yet the link above is still to the House substituted version. Several of those actions taken since last week took place today (May 2), so an update is warranted once the legislature's website is updated with an altered (potentially) bill.

In the other states likely to move, nothing new has occurred.