As New Hampshire continues to play the waiting game as far as when the state plans on scheduling its 2008 (2007?) presidential primary, some other things of note have surfaced.
The Rhode Island Flip-Flop
Who said flip-floppery was the sole domain of junior senators from Massachusetts? Late last week in a session to reexamine vetoed bills (and other bills not passed during the regular session), the Rhode Island General Assembly initially indicated that it would not take up the bill (S1152 - To see the actions taken on the bill search for "1152" here.) moving the state's 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Later on October 30, that decision was reversed and the Democratic-controlled Assembly, not only took up the measure, but passed it when the special session continued on Halloween. However, Republican governor, Donald Carcieri, decided four days later to veto the bill citing difficulties in administering an earlier election.
Michigan in Trouble
And if you thought Michigan going on January 15 was a done deal, hold tight. First, a group of journalists and political consultants filed a lawsuit in county circuit court claiming that the new Michigan primary law was unconstitutional. The new law requires voters to identify themselves and which party ballot they would prefer. The resulting list of voters, according to the law, would then belong exclusively to the two state parties. At dispute is that private entities (the two state parties) have exclusive access to public information (voter lists). The lower court judge then sided with the plaintiff (This link the Ballot Access News has a nice comment from New Hampshire state legislator and Bill Gardner confidante, Jim Splaine.), nullifying the law. Understandably this triggered a scramble within the Michigan legislature. A bill rectifying the problems cited in the lawsuit passed the Michigan Senate 26-9, but Democrats refused to support a motion granting the measure immediate effect. As a result the changes would not have gone through until March, well after the January 15 primary date set forth in the unconstitutional law and now the bill to fix it. So what does all of this mean? Well, not too much really. The initial law has a cut off point of November 16 for the two state parties to decide if they will even use the primary on January 15. The Michigan GOP seems to be firmly set on Jan. 15, but the Democrats (who traditionally use a caucus as their means of allocating delegates) are still undecided as to when they will go and the method they will use. All this unpredictability does it push back the time when New Hampshire will announce and ultimately go. The longer this goes on though, the less likely a Dec. 11 New Hampshire primary is.
Massachusetts to Move?
From the looks of it, Massachusetts may be the latest to add its name to the February 5 juggernaut (see also Ballot Access News). The legislature has until the end of the session (Nov. 21) to get a bill passed moving the 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Democratic governor, Deval Patrick has signaled that he would support such a bill if it appeared on his desk for signature.
Where will New Hampshire end up?
No one really knows. Correction: one person knows. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. And he'll only say that the decision will be made sometime during November.