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 was a 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.

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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

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Jindal Signature Nudges Louisiana Presidential Primary Up Two Weeks

FHQ is late to this, but...

On Thursday, June 19, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) signed HB 431 into law. Originally, the bill was intended to address campaign finance issues, but had an amendment added to it on the Senate side pushing the presidential primary up two weeks. The House later concurred with the change, sending the bill to the governor's desk.

Jindal's action now moves the Louisiana presidential primary from the third Saturday after the first Tuesday in March to the first Saturday in March. That will position the presidential primary in the Pelican state on March 5 for the 2016 presidential nomination cycle; just a few days after what is likely to be Super Tuesday on March 1.

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Find an updated 2016 presidential primary calendar here.

Recent Posts:
Missouri Presidential Primary Shifts Back to March Following Nixon Signature

Louisiana House Concurs on 2016 Presidential Primary Move to Early March

Amended Bill Would Bump 2016 Louisiana Presidential Primary Up Two Weeks

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Missouri Presidential Primary Shifts Back to March Following Nixon Signature

On Wednesday, Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO) signed SB 892 into law. The new law moves the Show Me state presidential primary from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the second Tuesday after the first Monday in March. More importantly -- to a host of actors involved in the presidential nomination process both in Missouri and on the national stage -- the change means Missouri will be compliant with the national parties' delegate selection rules for the 2016 cycle.

Unlike the 2012 cycle, when the Missouri legislature could not make the change in 2011 or eliminate the beauty contest primary in the early days of the 2012 session, Missouri will not have to revert to compliant caucuses or apply for waivers to avoid sanction.

NOTES:
  1.  Missouri has now pulled off the rare midterm year presidential primary move for the second time. The General Assembly first moved the presidential primary to the February position during the 2002 legislative session. It now moves back to March twelve years later, during another midterm year.
  2.  The North Carolina presidential primary -- anchored to South Carolina's -- is now the next biggest obstacle to the national parties getting the preferred primary calendar outlined in the delegate selection rules for 2016. Missouri was an earlier contest than what North Carolina's will likely be (under the North Carolina primary law), but in 2012 at least demonstrated how willing the state parties in the Show Me state were to move into compliance with the national party rules. Still, the Missouri move is a win for the state parties hoping to send a full delegation to the conventions, the national parties hoping for limited queue jumping on the calendar and Missouri voters.
  3. Missouri becomes the third state to move on the 2016 presidential primary calendar this cycle, joining Florida and North Carolina. Both Florida and Missouri pulled back from more provocative calendar positions while North Carolina last year moved into one.
  4. This bill passed the state House on May 5, but was not transmitted to the governor until last Friday, May 30. There was a quick turnaround on the signature once the legislation made it to Governor Nixon's desk.

Recent Posts:
Louisiana House Concurs on 2016 Presidential Primary Move to Early March

Amended Bill Would Bump 2016 Louisiana Presidential Primary Up Two Weeks

RNC Creates New Rule Dealing with Presidential Primary Debates

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Louisiana House Concurs on 2016 Presidential Primary Move to Early March

The Louisiana state House today unanimously concurred (96-0) with Senate amendments added to a campaign finance bill. The Senate changes would shift the Pelican state presidential primary in 2016 up two weeks to March 5. The language would move the primary from the first Saturday after the third Monday in March to the first Saturday in March.

House bill author, Tim Burns (R-89th), had no objections to the Senate changes in his brief comments describing said changes on the chamber floor. The measure now heads to Governor Bobby Jindal (R) for his consideration. The move is noncontroversial as it is within the delegate selection rules of both national parties and would move the Louisiana primary up and into a window in which a number of other southern states are currently set to hold contests in 2016.

Recent Posts:
RNC Creates New Rule Dealing with Presidential Primary Debates

Missouri Poised to Move Presidential Primary Back into Compliance with National Party Rules

Dems Do Little to Alter 2016 Delegate Selection Rules

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Amended Bill Would Bump 2016 Louisiana Presidential Primary Up Two Weeks

The Louisiana Senate added an amendment yesterday to a state House bill on campaign finance that would move the presidential primary in the Pelican state. The floor amendment was inserted into HB 431, among other changes, all of which were subsequently unanimously passed by the state Senate (38-0). The regular session of the Louisiana legislature is due to adjourn on Monday, June 2. This change, then, was a late addition. The bill now heads back to the state House where concurrence with the state Senate changes will be considered when the chamber convenes on Sunday afternoon.

The change to the presidential primary date for 2016 and beyond is rather minor. It would shift the Louisiana presidential primary up to the first Saturday of March; the Saturday following what is likely to be Super Tuesday on Tuesday, March 1. That would move the Pelican state primary up two weeks from its position on the the third Saturday after the first Tuesday in March. More simply, this would move the primary from March 19 to March 5.

There are more potential calendar changes to come in 2015, but if Louisiana were to move to March 5, that would place the primary in an eight day period with a decidedly southern flavor. Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia are already scheduled for March 1 -- the earliest date allowed by the national parties for non-carve-out states to conduct contests -- and Alabama and Mississippi are due to hold primaries a week later on March 8. Louisiana would fall right in the middle of that period on the calendar.

But first, the state House will have its say in the matter tomorrow.

Recent Posts:
RNC Creates New Rule Dealing with Presidential Primary Debates

Missouri Poised to Move Presidential Primary Back into Compliance with National Party Rules

Dems Do Little to Alter 2016 Delegate Selection Rules

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Monday, May 12, 2014

RNC Creates New Rule Dealing with Presidential Primary Debates

Under Rule 10(c) of the Rules of the Republican Party -- the rule granting the RNC chair the ability to create new committees with the approval of the RNC -- the Republican National Committee will charge a new committee with sanctioning the presidential primary debates during the 2016 cycle.

The new Rule 10(h) reads as follows:
There shall be a Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates, which shall be composed of thirteen (13) members of the Republican National Committee, five (5) of whom shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and each of the four (4) regions shall elect two (2) members, one man and one woman, at its regional caucus at the RNC Summer Meeting in each even-numbered year in which no Presidential election is held. The chairman of the Republican National Committee shall appoint the chairman of the Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates from among the members thereof. The Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates shall have the authority to sanction debates on behalf of the Republican National Committee based on input from presidential campaigns and criteria which may include but are not limited to considerations of timing, frequency, format, media outlet, and the best interests of the Republican Party. Each debate sanctioned by the Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates shall be known as a “Sanctioned Debate.” Any presidential candidate who participates in any debate that is not a Sanctioned Debate shall not be eligible to participate in any further Sanctioned Debates.
Rule 10(c) is the same rule that allowed for the creation of the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee that altered the rules under Chairman Steele's direction for the 2012 cycle -- Rule 10(d) in the 2008 Rules of the Republican Party -- and earlier this cycle created another temporary commission dealing with the preparation and planning of the national convention (Rule 10(g)). The difference between those committees and the new committee on presidential primary debates is that the latter is a standing committee. Unlike the other standing committees the rules call for, the debates committee provision is not housed in Rule 10(a) like the other seven "standing" committees.

The 2016 trial run of the debates committee may decide whether it joins the others in 10(a) at the next convention in the rules for 2020.

Recent Posts:
Missouri Poised to Move Presidential Primary Back into Compliance with National Party Rules

Dems Do Little to Alter 2016 Delegate Selection Rules

Missouri Senate Bill on Presidential Primary Passes Committee Stage in State House

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Missouri Poised to Move Presidential Primary Back into Compliance with National Party Rules

The Missouri House on May 5 passed SB 892 on a largely party line vote. The legislation would shift the date of the presidential primary in the Show Me state from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the first Tuesday after the second Tuesday in March.

Monday was a busy day for SB 892. The bill first received the "Do Pass" clearance from the state House Fiscal Review Committee and subsequently passed both a procedural vote that saw no amendments added and then a final vote.1 The latter saw a near-unified Republican majority in the chamber vote in favor of the move while all but two in the House Democratic caucus voted against the measure. Just three Republicans voted down the move in a 101-47 final tally. The bill then moved back to its chamber of origin -- the state Senate -- where it was ordered enrolled.

The next stop for SB 892 is the governor's desk.

Unlike 2011, when similar legislation was passed and vetoed, this is a clean bill that only shifts the date of the presidential primary. The reason Governor Nixon vetoed the 2011 legislation was that it also included provisions that would have curbed gubernatorial power in the area of appointments to fill vacancies to statewide offices. Without that, Nixon is very likely to sign something -- moving the primary into compliance with national party rules -- that he supported in 2011. His support for moving the primary back was the reason he included it in his call for a special session that year. That special session devolved into several inter-chamber disputes one of which derailed the effort to shift the presidential primary back.

Should Governor Nixon sign SB 892, it would be a big win for the national parties. It would clear a major obstacle to the calendars for which both parties appear to be aiming.

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1 Much of this was a formality. The House had previously passed its own version of this bill with the exact same language (HB 1902). It was virtually a given, then, that the Senate version would sail through the House. It did with no problems.

Recent Posts:
Dems Do Little to Alter 2016 Delegate Selection Rules

Missouri Senate Bill on Presidential Primary Passes Committee Stage in State House

Utah Presidential Primary in 2016, Prologue or Epilogue

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Dems Do Little to Alter 2016 Delegate Selection Rules

The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) on Friday raced through the twenty rules -- and subrules -- that govern the party's delegate selection process. In the process of review, the RBC changed little about the rules.

The big story -- if one can call it big -- was that the national party signaled the earliest points on the 2016 presidential primary calendar that the first four carve-out states can hold contests. Functionally however, this revelation was little more than a carryover of the 2012 rules. In 2012, Rule 11.A granted Iowa the ability to hold its caucuses 29 days before the first Tuesday in March.1 New Hampshire, as has become the custom, was allowed to hold its primary 21 days prior to that point -- eight days after Iowa. That is or will be no different in 2016. Iowa can go as early as February 1 -- 29 days before the first Tuesday in March (March 1) -- and New Hampshire can follow on February 9 -- 21 days before March 1.

What the RBC did change was how Nevada and South Carolina are treated by Rule 11. The 2012 rule actually conflicted with New Hampshire state law in that it allowed Nevada Democrats to hold their caucuses 17 days before the first Tuesday in March. That allowed only a four day cushion between New Hampshire and Nevada. The statute in the Granite state requires a seven day cushion between the first in the nation New Hampshire primary and any other similar contest following it. The DNC rule for 2012 contradicted that.

Rule 11 no longer contains that "oversight".2 In a nod to the reality that both Nevada and South Carolina prefer Saturday delegate selection events, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee has given the green light to Nevada caucuses 10 days prior to March 1 -- and 11 days after New Hampshire -- and a South Carolina Democratic primary 3 days prior to that first Tuesday in March.

That latter rule regarding the position of the South Carolina primary likely will ensure that the Democratic and Republican primaries in the Palmetto state will once again be held on different dates. That will definitely be the case should March 1 end up being a de facto southern or southeastern primary day. South Carolina Republicans -- like the situation in New Hampshire -- require (by custom, not law) a seven day window between the South Carolina primary and the next earliest southern contest. The SCGOP also prefers a Saturday contest, meaning that a February 20 date is likely (assuming no other calendar shenanigans). That would put the South Carolina Republican primary on the same date as the Nevada Democratic caucuses and perhaps even the Republican caucuses in the Silver state. That sequence of contests is similar to the positioning on the 2008 calendar.

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The primary dates section of the rules brought some minor changes, then, but that really was not the real surprise to come out of the brief Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting in Washington, DC on Friday. The real surprise -- to FHQ anyway -- was that there was no change and no discussion of changing the penalties associated with rules violations. As recently as last fall there was some discussion -- outside of the RBC -- of the party considering a stiffer penalty on rogue primary states (those that violate the timing rules). At that time, the word was that the RBC would perhaps consider a penalty similar to the RNC super penalty. That may have happened, but did not in the context of one of the Rules and Bylaws Committee public meetings. In any event, Rule 20 was left unchanged for 2016 as compared to its 2012 version. That means a few things:
  1. States that violate the timing rules for scheduling their delegate selection events will be docked 50% of their delegates. That is the very same penalty that has proven ineffective with a select few agitators over the last couple of presidential election cycles. But…
  2. The Rules and Bylaws Committee still reserves the right to increase the penalty (Rule 20.C.5) or through its recommendation and an affirmative vote from the Democratic National Committee's Executive Committee to conduct a compliant party-run contest (Rule 21.C).
  3. There is some lack of uniformity between the RNC penalties and the DNC penalties. However, that difference is more a reflection of the RNC more explicitly laying out the exact consequences of violation and the DNC allowing itself a bit more leeway in assessing an appropriate penalty should the rules be broken. 
This last point has been a point of emphasis for FHQ since 2012. We have consistently argued that rules coordination between the national parties was necessary but not sufficient to keeping states in line. It also requires some coordination on the penalties as well. The rules across parties are not the same, but with this fall back option, the DNC has now likely given (along with the extant RNC rules) 2016 the best chance yet to be the cycle in which the national parties get something close to their ideal primary calendar.

It is a fighting chance, but now that the national parties have moved, the ball is in the states' court. Whether the states will comply is a question for 2015. It will be interesting.

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1 The latter reference point date was the earliest date on which non-carve-out states could conduct the first step of their delegate selection process without penalty from the national parties.

2 This is another win for the New Hampshire primary in terms of assists its calendar position has gotten from the national parties. The RNC has already indicated that all four carve-out states have the ability to move to a spot on the calendar up to a month before the next earliest contest without incurring a penalty from the party. In 2012, the RNC only allowed the carve-outs to shift to dates on or after February 1 without penalty (see Rule 15(b)(1)).


Recent Posts:
Missouri Senate Bill on Presidential Primary Passes Committee Stage in State House

Utah Presidential Primary in 2016, Prologue or Epilogue

Missouri Senate Passes Bill Moving Presidential Primary to March

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Missouri Senate Bill on Presidential Primary Passes Committee Stage in State House

The Missouri Senate bill that would move the Show Me state presidential primary from February to March has gotten the thumbs up from both the House Committee on Elections and the House Rules Committee.

A bill with the exact same language has already passed the House and is currently being considered in the state Senate. SB 892 passed the Senate with only a handful of dissenting votes earlier this month. This clears the way for the bill to be considered on the floor of the state House, first through an amendment process and through a final vote.

The legislation would shift Missouri back into compliance with the national party rules on delegate selection. This follows a cycle when Missouri Republicans had to allocate delegates via a later [March] caucus/convention process while the February -- state-funded -- primary was a mere beauty contest. Missouri Democrats received a waiver from the DNC to continue with (an uncompetitive) presidential primary on the February date.

The Missouri General Assembly will be in session until May 16.

Recent Posts:
Utah Presidential Primary in 2016, Prologue or Epilogue

Missouri Senate Passes Bill Moving Presidential Primary to March

Nebraska Bill on Binding Delegates Based on Primary or Caucus Results Signed into Law

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Utah Presidential Primary in 2016, Prologue or Epilogue

FHQ is late to this but I did want to point readers in the direction of a nice summary piece on the recent effort in Utah to move the presidential primary in the state online and ahead of the carve-out states.

More interesting, perhaps, is the brief bit on where legislators or the parties in Utah may turn next, now that the move to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire has passed:
Utah Republicans are working with their counterparts in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona to put together a regional primary that would be held between March 15 and April 1, Hough said.
This is noteworthy on the heels of news that there is an effort underway among a series of southern states to have a southern regional primary at the beginning of March. But such a western regional primary would be susceptible to some of the same issues that would face a southern primary. Mostly, that it is potentially difficult to coordinate. Still, it looks at though Utah is unlikely to wait until June to conduct its presidential primary in 2016. The rest? We'll have to wait until 2015 to see about them.

Recent Posts:
Missouri Senate Passes Bill Moving Presidential Primary to March

Nebraska Bill on Binding Delegates Based on Primary or Caucus Results Signed into Law

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Missouri Senate Passes Bill Moving Presidential Primary to March

Earlier, the Missouri Senate voted 25-7 to pass SB 892. This is the bill that would shift the Show Me state presidential primary from February to March and into compliance with national party delegate selection rules.1

The Senate bill now moves to the House where an identical bill has already been passed. Each chamber is dealing with the other's (exact same) version of the legislation. Having already passed, each should move smoothly through the respective chambers.

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Additional background:
The description of the bill on the Senate floor for a procedural vote on April 9 by its sponsor, Senator Will Kraus (R-8th) describes the reasoning behind the proposed March position on the calendar. A June date was considered but rejected as too late.2 And the original April proposal faced opposition from elections administrators because of logistical issues (e.g.: combining partisan and non-partisan races on one ballot, requiring two different machines). Not mentioned was the fact that this particular date in March will preserve the winner-take-all delegate allocation method Missouri Republicans have traditionally used. New RNC rules prohibit winner-take-all allocation of delegates before that point on the calendar.

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UPDATE:
The 25-7 vote split largely on party lines. Seven of the nine Democrats in the Senate opposed the measure. The majority Republicans were unified in support of moving the primary from February to March.

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1 The specific move is from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the first Tuesday after the second Monday in March. That would be a move from February 6 to March 15 for the 2016 cycle.

2 Presumably a June presidential primary would have been consolidated with primaries for state and local office as well. Separate legislation is seeking to shift the current August primary for state and local offices up to June.

 Recent Posts:
Nebraska Bill on Binding Delegates Based on Primary or Caucus Results Signed into Law

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Nebraska Bill on Binding Delegates Based on Primary or Caucus Results Signed into Law

When FHQ discussed Nebraska bill LB 1048 back in February, talk was that an amendment would be added to the legislation. That amendment would have had the effect of shifting the presidential primary in the Cornhusker state out of May and to an earlier point on the presidential primary calendar. Yet, that particular amendment never came.

However, LB 1048 unanimously passed the Nebraska Unicam late last week and was signed into law by Governor Dave Heinemann (R) on Wednesday, April 9.  

From February, here's the impact of the bill for the presidential nomination process in Nebraska in 2016:
  1. State parties have to submit delegate selection plans to the Nebraska Secretary of State by December 1 in the year prior to the presidential election.
  2. Those plans should allocate at least 80% of the total number of delegates to candidates based on the results of a primary or caucuses.
  3. The plans must also specify how or if those delegates would be bound to particular candidates.
  4. Finally, those plans must also set a minimum threshold of 15% in the primary for a candidate to eligible for any delegates whether allocated proportionally or in a winner-take-all manner.
At its core, the new law requires that the state parties bind at least 80% of their delegates to candidates based on either the state-funded presidential primary election or presumably the first step of a party-funded caucus process (the precinct caucuses). Nebraska Democrats are already compliant, having done this the last two cycles through a caucuses/convention process.

The above changes to the law will be more consequential to Republican Conrnhuskers. The primary has always been used as an advisory beauty contest and the beginning stages of the caucus process had no direct bearing on the selection of delegates. A certain number of delegates for a particular candidate did not have to be elected in a precinct based on the percentage of the vote that candidate received there. The only restrictions were 1) that potential delegates to the national convention had to file with the state and party (with a candidate preference) just after the primary and 2) only credentialed delegates to the state convention were eligible.

There was, however, no binding mechanism. Now there is. And it was consistent with the DNC delegate selection rules and with the new binding requirement that the RNC has added to its rules for 2016.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Missouri Presidential Primary Bill Clears Procedural Hurdle in Senate

The Missouri state Senate voted on April 8 to finalize -- perfect -- its version of a bill to move the Show Me state presidential primary from February to March. The bill that is identical to a previously passed House bill will now be considered one final time on the floor of the Senate before a recorded vote on passage.

The House version is currently being considered in the state Senate. Both bills would shift the Missouri presidential primary into March and into compliance with the RNC rules (and likely DNC rules) on delegate selection for the 2016 cycle.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

A Step Closer to a March Presidential Primary in Missouri

The Missouri state Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee on March 26 gave the green light to a substitute version of a bill that would shift the Show Me state presidential primary out of February, into compliance with national party rules. More importantly, the timing discrepancy that existed between the House version of the bill (HB1902) and the Senate version (SB 892) was reconciled by the committee amendments to the Senate bill.

Now, both the Senate and House bills call for moving the primary from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the first Tuesday after the second Tuesday in March. That would place the Missouri presidential primary on March 15, 2016. The move would not only bring the state back into compliance with the timing rules put in place by both national parties, but would also allow Missouri Republicans to protect their traditional winner-take-all allocation of delegates. March 15 is the first date in 2016 on which Republican state parties can allocate delegates in a winner-take-all fashion according to the RNC delegate selection rules.

The Senate bill now heads to the floor for consideration next week while the House version (...has passed the House and...) has been referred to and will be considered by the same Senate committee that just granted the exact same language -- in the Senate version -- a "Do Pass" designation.

While this is a positive move in terms of moving the primary into compliance with the national party rules, it should be noted that legislation has reached this stage before and failed in the Missouri General Assembly. Floor debates and inter-chamber divides have derailed similar legislation several times since 2011.

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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.

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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.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Utah's Stake on the First in the Nation Presidential Primary a Casualty on Final Legislative Day

Memories will fade [quickly] and all that most will remember is that the efforts in Utah these past few weeks to challenge New Hampshire and Iowa at the head of the presidential primary calendar died on the last day of the 2014 legislative session. The record, however, indicates a richer story.

Again, as FHQ described earlier, the idea in Utah was novel. The state would not only have granted the lieutenant governor the authority to set the date of the primary -- assuming legislative funding -- but it would have required them to set the primary before Iowa, New Hampshire or any other state. The first part isn't unique. New Hampshire's secretary of state has had that ability since 1976, the Georgia General Assembly granted similar power to its secretary of state in 2011 and Arizona gives the governor the ability to set the primary for a date earlier than called for by state law. The intent in each is to empower an individual with the task rather than a partisan body susceptible to gridlock, and thus, slow to react. Only New Hampshire state law requires that individual -- the secretary of state -- with ensuring that the contest is first in the nation. But the Utah bill mimicked that provision, requiring also that the lieutenant governor set the presidential primary in the Beehive state first on the calendar.

The Utah bill, then, addressed the pace of response problem that most states face (and New Hampshire does not). Additionally however, the legislation also struck at the other advantage New Hampshire has in the process: the pace of implementation. The rationale of the secretary of state office in the Granite state -- or part of it anyway -- has always been that other states may challenge or vie for first in the nation status, but we can wait them out with an ability to deploy the election administrative troops in a shorter period of time than anyone else.

Utah's innovation? By shifting the voting online, there would be no concern about New Hampshire waiting the state out. Utah could logistically respond/adapt accordingly and quickly.1

That vision passed the Utah House on Monday and was expedited along with a raft of other legislation in the state Senate on Wednesday. But the Thursday final session day did not see the bill that would threaten the carve-out states, not to mention defy the national party rules, simply die as the clock ran out.

No, instead, the Senate floor sponsor, Senator Curtis Bramble (R-16th, Utah, Wasatch), provided yet another rather forward-thinking twist. In this case, forward thinking meant anticipatory maneuver with the thought of future showdowns with New Hampshire (a la Nevada Republicans in 2011) or the national committee of either party. The proposed, Senate-amended bill sought to provide Utah in that scenario with some additional leverage. It called for the same actions -- giving date-setting authority to the lieutenant governor and shifting to online voting -- but added an "unless" rider. In other words, Utah would be first unless certain conditions were met. Those conditions were that Utah would be or would challenge for first unless at least two other western states joined Utah in the type of Western States Presidential Primary called for in state law (but which has never fully come to fruition as intended).

How is that leverage?

Assuming such a bill had passed and was signed into law, Utah first could threaten to or maybe even actually set a date in, say, 2015 in order to force New Hampshire's and the national parties' hands. The threat likely would have been enough to get the national parties involved in if not pressuring other western states, then at least inquiring about their openness to moving their contests to a [less problematic/early or compliant] date concurrent with the Utah primary.

The bottom line intent there is simple: Utah wants to be first to gain attention. If we can't be first, then we can still get attention so long as there is at least subregional primary of neighboring western states along with Arizona, Colorado and/or Nevada, for instance. One of the unintended consequences of these types of attempted negotiations is that, legislatively, states rarely provide themselves with the options necessary to get even some of what they want if the first option -- going first on the calendar in this case -- falls through. Often, states are forced to go the all-or-nothing route and can end up worse off (especially if a legislature is still required to set the date but is not in session).

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This was, then, a new wrinkle to the proceedings. As the day went on yesterday, though, and time ran out on a Utah state legislature with a full agenda, the typical sine die day negotiations to get a number of things passed (including the primary bill) commenced. This horse trading produced a last ditch Senate proposal that included concessions of the most controversial portion of bill; the requirement that Utah be first in the nation. Left in the bill were the provisions shifting the date-setting authority from the legislature to the lieutenant governor and for online voting. Also gone was the "unless" rider to coax a real Western State Presidential Primary out of the process. While the language was less provocative, the lieutenant governor still would have had the ability to threaten the front of the calendar. The office just would not have had the requirement to do so under state law.

Yet, in the end, even that did not pass muster in the behind the scenes wrangling in the state Senate. The bill never came up for a vote, time ran out and it was returned to the House; dead.

--
There a few notes that should be made here before closing.

  1. Just because this issue is dead in 2014 does not mean that we will not see this return in Utah during the 2015 state legislative session.
  2. Relatedly, these sorts of (provocative) ideas are now out on the open market. Other states may consider them and strategically augment them in 2015.
  3. This notion of consideration and strategic negotiation sounds a lot like the sort of bartering that Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) did with the Arizona primary in 2011. Now, she did not ultimately threaten Iowa and New Hampshire, but she did win a Republican presidential debate out of it. ...all while still maintaining a non-compliant primary. Whether this sort of action will become the norm for aspiring rogue states remains to be seen. But Utah is evidence that the idea is spreading, even if on a limited basis for now.

--
1 Now, the question still remains whether candidates and campaigns would throw the known of New Hampshire by the wayside for an unknown process with unknown consequences in Utah. FHQ has its doubts.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Missouri House Passes Bill to Move Presidential Primary to March

During its morning session today, the Missouri House of Representatives passed the committee substitute to HB 1902. After clearing a procedural hurdle Tuesday -- with no additional amendments tacked on -- and receiving a thumbs up from the Committee on Fiscal Review today, the legislation was brought to the floor and passed by an announced margin of 97-48 along party lines in the chamber.

The bill, which would shift the Show Me state presidential primary from February to March, now moves to the Senate where a similar piece of legislation -- SB 892 -- is still in committee. It should be noted that both bills initially called for moving the date of the Missouri presidential primary from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April. The state Senate bill is still in that form. The state House bill is not. At the committee stage, that April date was revised to the first Tuesday after the second Monday in March.

That would be March 15 during the 2016 cycle. That is also the first date on which states may hold true winner-take-all contests under the Republican delegate selection rules. The change from April to March was presumably made to line the Missouri primary -- a traditionally winner-take-all contest -- with the change in the Republican rules shifting the proportionality window into March. It remains to be seen whether the Missouri Senate will act on its own bill or shunt it to the side to deal with the House bill.

As FHQ has described, inter-chamber disputes have derailed similar presidential primary moves in the past.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

As Spiker Goes, So Goes the Ames Straw Poll?

FHQ must admit, we had a different reaction to news over the weekend that Republican Party of Iowa chairman, AJ Spiker, had opted to step down from his post. Well, FHQ had a different reaction relative to the impact the change will have on the future of the Iowa caucuses or the Ames Straw Poll. On the latter, it has been reported for months that Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) has recommended suspending the event altogether. And that forces in the state/party aligned with the governor were able to overrun precinct caucuses earlier in the year and county conventions this past weekend -- combined with Spiker's resignation -- could indicate that the end is nigh.

Could.

However, in FHQ's mind, one question emerges: Was this recommendation/proposal -- to end the straw poll -- a reaction to the perceived structural problems the event represents (see 2011) or a function of intra-party opposition to the liberty movement-aligned leadership in the state party?

Time may or may not provide us with an accurate answer to this question. Yet, I am puzzled by the notion that a mainstream/establishment faction within the Republican Party of Iowa would demonstrate in 2014 the organizational wherewithal necessary to wrest control of the state party back from the liberty movement faction -- one that out-organized them in 2012 -- only to unilaterally surrender a big, quadrennial fund-raising event in 2015. [They couldn't organize a "better" straw poll?] The argument all along has been that straw poll participants/caucusgoers in Iowa skew rightward ideologically. Furthermore, [and this is an argument, not FHQ's position] the contention has been that the Spiker chairmanship would only exacerbate that issue, making Iowa a less attractive option at the front of the 2016 presidential primary calendar.

But if the more mainstream faction within the party can flex its organizational muscle in midterm caucuses and perhaps elect one of their own as chairman, does this remain an issue? I don't know. But there is at least some reason to doubt that the Ames Straw Poll is going anywhere in 2015.

--
Postscript: And allow me to dismiss outright this idea that the RNC can still change its rules and that Iowa's first in the nation status is somehow at risk. Yes, the RNC can still change its rules any time before August 30. However, so long as the Democratic National Committee keeps Iowa up front -- and there is no indication that the DNC will make any changes to the carve-outs on its side -- the motivation for the RNC to make any changes is greatly diminished.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Bill Moving Utah Presidential Primary to First on the Calendar Passes State House

Bryan Schott at Utah Policy sends this along:
"[HB 410] just passed the House. Now heads to the Senate."
Indeed. The bill that would move the Utah presidential primary ahead of New Hampshire -- or at least seeks to -- passed the state House by a 58-14 vote and now heads to the Senate.

Notes:

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Update: 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar (3/9/14)

Missouri and Utah have legislation active in their respective legislatures that would affect the timing of their presidential primaries.

[Find the calendar's permanent home here. There is a link to the 2016 calendar in the upper left corner of the page as well.]

Changes:
  • The Utah House is considering a bill that would take voting in the presidential primary online and move the contest ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • Missouri has new legislation before its General Assembly to move back the date of its primaries.
  • The map has also added a new shading element to account for the options available to some states that may be at the beginning of the calendar (see footnotes on Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah below) and where that is likely to force the carve-out states. 
NOTES:
Why are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina (and North Carolina as well) where they are on the calendar below? The FHQ 2016 presidential primary calendar now reflects the best case scenario calendar given where state law currently positions states and past precedent for how the carve-out states have reacted to provocative maneuvers in potentially rogue states. Importantly, this current best case scenario assumes the following: 
[a] Both Colorado parties opt for the March 1 caucuses date instead of the February 2 date. Both are allowed by state law. 
[b] Minnesota parties agree to a compliant caucus date before March 1, 2015, thus avoiding an automatic scheduling of the caucuses for the first Tuesday in February 2016. 
[c] The Missouri General Assembly actually changes the first Tuesday in February date of the presidential primary in the Show Me state, or barring that [again], the state parties opt into compliant caucuses as Missouri Republicans did in 2012. 
[d] The Utah legislature either decides not to fund the first Tuesday in February presidential primary or shifts back that date in the statute. (See also efforts to push the primary ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire)
[e] South Carolina parties maintain their desire for a seven day buffer between their primaries and the contest(s) in any other southern state. 
That means Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and Utah are not threats (yet). They are out of the way as far as the carve-out states are concerned. However, considering the new law regarding the North Carolina presidential primary, North Carolina would then violate the terms of the fifth (South Carolina) assumption above. With South Carolina typically choosing a Saturday primary date, a North Carolina primary on the Tuesday just three days later would not pass muster with the parties in its neighbor to the south.

As has been mentioned in this space previously, the South Carolina parties would have some tools to utilize; especially on the Republican side. According to the current RNC rules, all four carve-out states have the month prior to the next earliest contest in which to schedule their own delegate selection events. But the North Carolina law anchors the North Carolina primary to the scheduling of the South Carolina primary. To some extent that does tie the hands of the state party decision makers in the Palmetto state. Those same primary date decision makers -- again, on the Republican side but with possible implications for South Carolina Democrats -- could also hide behind the new protections nestled in the Republican delegate selection rules: the super penalty. That leads to the final assumption:
[f] South Carolina would schedule its primary for a date that would automatically trigger the super penalty on North Carolina if the law in the Tarheel state remains unchanged or the state parties there do not opt into a caucus/convention system as Missouri Republicans did in 2012. 
To accomplish that, the South Carolina parties could schedule their primaries for as late as Saturday, February 13, 2016. That would position the North Carolina primary on Tuesday, February 16, a date open to the super penalty under Republican rules. Please note that Tuesday, February 23 is not a date affected by the super penalty. That is the last penalty-free point of the calendar currently and why the Arizona and Michigan primaries are very unlikely to move from their state law-mandated positions. South Carolina could opt for Saturday, February 20, but there would be no penalty on North Carolina for a primary three days later. Such a move does not help decision makers in South Carolina. 

If South Carolina falls on February 13, then:
[a] The Nevada caucuses would or could be a week earlier on Saturday, February 6
[b] New Hampshire would then fall in line on the next earliest Tuesday that would give the state/secretary of state the seven days necessary to comply with state law ("seven days before any other similar contest"). The primary in the Granite state could not be scheduled for Tuesday, February 2 as that is only four days before the Nevada caucuses. These states had a similar dispute in 2011. The next earliest and compliant date for New Hampshire, then, is Tuesday, January 26
[c] And all of that means the Iowa caucuses would have enough calendar space to precede New Hampshire by its customary eight days, unlike in both 2008 and 2012. That places Iowa on Monday, January 18
In all, then, the North Carolina action only pushed the starting point in the best case scenario calendar up by a week since the last FHQ calendar update in June

Now, if any or all of the states (Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and/or Utah) fail to act as assumed above, then the best case scenario becomes the worst case scenario outlined in June:
  • Saturday, January 2: Iowa caucuses
  • Tuesday, January 5: New Hampshire primary
  • Saturday, January 16: Nevada caucuses
  • Saturday, January 23: South Carolina primary
  • Tuesday, January 26: North Carolina primary
  • Tuesday, February 2: Colorado caucuses, Minnesota caucuses, Missouri primary, Utah primary
And that scenario puts the national parties right back to the square one they have attempted to avoid since 2008.

--
Reading the Map:
As was the case with the maps from past cycles, the earlier a contest is scheduled in 2012, the darker the color in which the state is shaded. Arizona, for instance, is a much deeper shade of blue in February than California is in June. There are, however, some differences between the earlier maps and the one that appears above.
  1. Several caucus states have yet to select a date for the first step of their delegate selection processes in 2016. Until a decision is made by state parties in those states, they will appear in gray on the map.
  2. The states where legislation to move the presidential primary is active are two-toned with wide, diagonal stripes. One color indicates the timing of the primary according to the current law whereas the second color is meant to highlight the month to which the primary could be moved. For example, a bill currently being considered in Massachusetts would move the presidential primary from its current position in March to a new spot on the calendar in June. 
  3. Other states -- the carve-out states and states with state laws providing guidance for setting a primary or caucuses date but no specific date or multiple specified dates -- are also two-toned with narrow, horizontal stripes. In this case, one color (gray) represents the uncertainty of the primary or caucuses date now while the other color (or colors) highlight the options available to states or the most likely date for a contest in that state given the information we currently have. So, in Iowa, for instance, we know that the state parties in the Hawkeye state will want to protect the first in the nation status they have enjoyed in the past. To maintain that position alone, Iowa could now conduct its precinct caucuses as late as January 18, 2016. In a state like Utah, the primary itself is dependent on the state legislature allocating funds for that purpose. Should legislators in the Beehive state follow through on that action for 2016, the primary would be in early February. That explains the color in both instances. 
  4. States that are bisected vertically are states where the state parties have different dates for their caucuses and/or primaries. The left hand section is shaded to reflect the state Democratic Party's scheduling while the right is for the state Republican Party's decision on the timing of its delegate selection event (see Nebraska). This holds true for states -- typically caucus states -- with a history of different dates across parties but which also have not yet chosen a contest date.
--
Reading the calendar:
  1. Note that if you click on the state name in the calendar below, the link will take you to the relevant section of the state's law or party's bylaws covering the date of the primary or caucus.
  2. Links to discussions of 2013 or 2014 state-level legislation addressing the dates of future presidential primaries have also been added (see 2013/2014 Legislation in the calendar).
  3. Markers have also been added indicating whether legislation has become law or has died at some point in the legislative process. 

2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

January
Monday, January 18:
Iowa caucuses1 (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, January 26: 
New Hampshire (***tentative given current information***)

February
Tuesday, February 2:
Missouri 
    (2013 Legislation: March primary: House/SenateApril primary -- all Died in Committee)
    (2014 Legislation: March primary, April primary)
Utah4
    (2013 Legislation: Primary funding -- Signed into Law)
    (2014 Legislation: Primary before Iowa/New Hampshire)

Saturday, February 6:
Nevada caucuses (***tentative given current information***)

Saturday, February 13:
South Carolina (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, February 16: 
North Carolina (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, February 23:
March
Tuesday, March 1:
Florida5
    (2013 Legislation: March primary -- Died in CommitteePrimary on first unpenalized date -- 
    Signed into Law)
Massachusetts 
    (2013 legislation: June primary)
Texas
    (2013 Legislation: Saturday primaryFebruary primary -- all Died in Committee)

Tuesday, March 8:

Tuesday, March 15:

Saturday, March 19:

April
Tuesday, April 5:
Washington, DC 
    (2013 Legislation: June primary)

Tuesday, April 26:

May
Tuesday, May 3:

Tuesday, May 10:

Tuesday, May 17:

Tuesday, May 24:

June
Tuesday, June 7:
Montana 
    (2013 Legislation: May primary -- Died in Committee)

Primary states with no specified date:
Maine
    (2013 Legislation: establish primary -- Died in Committee)
Nevada8
    (2013 Legislation: January primary -- Died in Committee)
New Hampshire
South Carolina

--
1 This date does conflict with the Martin Luther King Day holiday in 2016. As John Deeth points out in the comments section that is an issue that was a source of some discontent among Iowa Democrats when the caucuses and holiday overlapped in 2004. If that is an issue again in 2016, it may affect the date of the caucuses above. Moving it up further would perhaps push the envelope a bit too much, but the state parties may opt to hold the caucuses on a Tuesday -- a week before New Hampshire on January 19 -- as they did in 2012. 
2 The state parties have the option of choosing either the first Tuesday in March date called for in the statute or moving up to the first Tuesday in February.
3 The state parties must agree on a date on which to hold caucuses by March 1 in the year prior to a presidential election. If no agreement is reached, the caucuses are set for the first Tuesday in February.
4 The Western States Presidential Primary in Utah is scheduled for the first Tuesday in February, but the contest will only be held on that date if the state legislature decides to allocate funds for the primary. (See also efforts to push the primary ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire)
5 Democratic-sponsored legislation would establish a specific date for the Florida presidential primary; the second Tuesday in March. 
6 See definition of "Spring primary" for clause dealing with the timing of the presidential primary.
7 Kansas has not held a presidential primary since 1992. Funds have not been appropriated by the legislature for the primary since that time. That said, there are laws in place providing for a presidential preference primary. Assuming funding, the Kansas secretary of state has the option of choosing a date -- on or before November 1 in the year preceding the presidential election -- that either coincides with at least 5 other states' delegate selection events or is on the first Tuesday in April or before.
8 A Republican-sponsored bill during the 2013 session of the Nevada legislature would create a consolidated primary (presidential primary together with state primaries) and move the contest from June to January.
9 The North Carolina primary is now scheduled for the Tuesday following the South Carolina primary if the South Carolina contest is prior to March 15. Given the protected status South Carolina enjoys with the national parties, a primary prior to March 15 is a certainty for both parties in the Palmetto state. The link to the North Carolina statute does not yet reflect the change made to the presidential primary law. Language laying out the parameters for the primary can be found in the bill (HB 589) recently signed into law.


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