Thursday, August 30, 2007

And it is on to the Governor with the Michigan Primary Plan

Why wait for it to be reported when you can go straight to the source? The Michigan legislature's web page now shows that SB 624 (the bill to move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15) was discharged from the House Ethics and Elections Committee today and was subsequently passed by a vote of 67 - 34 on the floor. The bill then went to the Senate where it passed the House alterations by a vote of 36- 0 with two either excused or abstaining members. Now the plan heads to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk where it is expected to be signed.

Your move Iowa and New Hampshire.

More later...
UPDATE: Ah, here's an AP account of what happened.
UPDATE II: And here is the story from CQ.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tomorrow is Decision Day in the Michigan House

According to The Detroit News, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) today said that action would be taken on Thursday to get the legislation (SB 624) that would move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15 out of the Ethics and Elections Committee. The bill has been stuck in that committee since last week when the Senate passed it. Chairman Marc Corriveau, who is a Democrat, opposes the measure and has attempted to bottle up the bill in the committee. House Speaker Andy Dillon (D) however, has indicated to the governor that a vote (or votes) will take place tomorrow to get the bill out of committee where it can then be voted on by the entire chamber. The chamber is split 58-52 in favor of the Democrats, and with Republicans supporting the move, gaining a majority on this bill should not be an insurmountable task. That would then send the legislation to a supportive governor.

Wyoming GOP Stakes Its Claim

After earlier this year voting to hold their nomination conventions on the same day as the New Hampshire primary (whenever that was), the Wyoming Republican Party reconsidered. With New Hampshire tentatively (And when I say tentatively, I mean this is the latest possible date on which New Hampshire will hold its primary.) slotted in on January 8, this moved Wyoming as well. Apparently that wasn't early enough for Wyoming Republicans. Bent on getting hard core Republican candidates like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani to plow through feet-deep snow drifts in the lead up to delegate-binding county conventions, the Wyoming GOP moved those conventions up to January 5. No, not February 5.

January 5.

Snow drifts aside, this is the earliest contest with a set date at this time. And because, as I stated earlier today, Republican National Committee rules exempt caucuses and conventions from frontloading sanctions, this is all fine. Granted not all of the state's delegates are up for grabs, but nearly half of the state's 28 delegates will be at stake on that day.

So take that Michigan.

Correction: RNC rules exempt states that do not allocate delegates in the first step of their process. Iowa and Nevada qualify for that exemption, but Wyoming does not.

Minnesota Democrats Join Feb. 5

Joining their GOP counterparts, Minnesota Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move their 2008 presidential caucus to February 5. Given that this was already in their delegate selection plan as of July 21, I thought the move from March 4 was already a done deal. You can read more about the move here and here. Thanks to Ballot Access News and Political Wire for the heads up on the USA Today blog.

Now the RNC is Getting in on the Act

Not content to let the Democratic National Committee alone attempt to deal with the "problem" of frontloading, the Republican National Committee on Tuesday made clear that it too would enforce its rules on delegate selection. What does that mean and who is affected? According to the rules (see my earlier post), states holding presidential primaries during the 2008 cycle, must do so between February 5 and the first Tuesday in June (June 3, 2008). In case you hadn't noticed, no one seems to be queuing on the back end. So which states are under fire from the GOP for attacking the front end? Florida, already under scrutiny from national Democrats for the state's proposed plan to hold a primary on January 29, is joined by South Carolina, Michigan and, believe it or not, New Hampshire.

Those four states face losing half of their delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next summer for violating the window rule. Florida, South Carolina and Michigan make sense. But why sanction New Hampshire? And why now? And come to think of it, why not Iowa? Iowa and Nevada are exempt from penalties because both states are holding non-binding caucuses and not primaries.

UPDATE (8-30-07):
After checking the Republican delegate selection rules again, caucuses and conventions are mentioned by name; not just primaries. However, Nevada and Iowa are non-binding contests which exempts them from national GOP scrutiny. Wyoming, on the other hand, is vulnerable to sanction because the plan recently decided upon there would award 12 of the state's 28 delegates during that first step on January 5.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

February 5 Adds Montana GOP Caucus

The Montana Republican Party voted yesterday to break with tradition (What else is new this cycle?), spurning the state's June primary date to adopt a caucus for allocating delegates to next September's GOP Convention in Minneapolis, MN. The GOP caucus in Montana joins caucuses in Alaska, Colorado (D), Minnesota (R), and North Dakota as well as primaries in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico (D), New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah on February 5. That now brings the total to 20 contests on that day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ouch! Florida Democrats Hit Where it Hurts

Out to avenge the irritation of having it own primary calendar plan defied, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee moved today to strip Florida of ALL the state's delegates to next year's convention if they continue with the plan to hold their 2008 presidential primary on January 29. State Democrats now have thirty days to revise and resubmit a delegate selection plan to the national party.

All week Florida Democrats talked a good game: urging Florida Democratic voters to contact the committee, arguing of the disenfranchisement of voters stripped of a meaningful primary, and today before the committee, claiming that the party had gone to lengths to prevent the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican governor from defying both parties' delegate selection rules. None of that seemed to pass with the members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee though.

So what does all this mean? First of all, Florida Democrats will most likely hold a caucus on February 5. But does the beauty contest on January 29 now open the door for candidates to campaign in Florida again? That is the big question. If that is a loophole candidates can now take advantage of, then it would put to rest the arguments that preventing an official primary on the 29th, effectively hurts any nominee in the general election (An argument I don't put much stock in in the first place. Primary voters are the parties' core constituents and aren't going to be dissuaded from voting in the general election because of something like this; especially in light of the experiences the state had in the 2000 election.). This also sets a precedent for how the Committee would deal with the Michigan case should the State House pass the bill moving the state's primary to January 15. That decision could come as soon as next week.

EDIT: Well, apparently Florida Democrats doubt the feasibility of holding a party-funded primary. They seem somewhat taken aback by the severity of the party's decision, but are nonetheless holding their ground.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Showdown between Florida Democrats and National Democrats

Not to be outdone by Michigan and South Carolina, Florida remains in the news over the planned January 29 presidential primary there. State Democrats in Florida are vulnerable to penalties from the national party if they hold their primary on that date. In a conference call with state and local reporters yesterday however, Florida Democratic Party chair, Karen Thurman, dismissed the notion of the primary being a beauty contest that would precede a meaningful primary or caucus held on a later date. State and national party officials will meet this weekend to discuss the issue. For the time being however, Florida Democrats seem to be holding their line; declining partial funding of a caucus from the national party under the rationale that some voters would be disenfranchised.

Read more from the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michigan Expedites the Process

I'm surprised that it took the state legislature in Michigan until Wednesday to act on this, but the Senate today amended the language concerning the date of the state's 2008 presidential primary in SB 624. A bill that originally sought to change the date from February 26 to January 29 now seeks to bump the date up an additional two weeks to January 15. The Senate then passed the bill by a vote of 21 - 17 and transmitted it to the House where it already received its first reading. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has already indicated that she would sign the bill if it made it through the legislature.

Iowa and New Hampshire have the next move.

Arizona's in too...officially

I swear, creating a summary of the presidential primary and caucus movement for the 2008 cycle seemed like a good idea at the time. With the rapid pace with which things are changing this time around though, such an effort can prove pointless before it is even done. At least I had the foresight to include a "Still Up in the Air" section. Michigan was the first state to prove why it was among those states with information coming out late last week that the state was considering a move to January 15. Arizona now becomes the latest on that list to make a move. As I mentioned in the summary last week, the speculation for much of the year has been that Arizona would move to February 5. And kudos to Governor Janet Napolitano (D) for exhibiting some restraint in her proclamation and not moving the state's presidential preference election any earlier. With Florida, South Carolina Republicans and now Michigan thwarting national party rules, the temptation to go even earlier must have been there to some degree.

Let's step back and scrutinize the Arizona case though. Most major news accounts, and even blogs, are simply saying that Gov. Napolitano has issued a proclamation to move the state's primary. All the while, political observers are missing the uniqueness of the Arizona system; mainly that the governor is making the decision to frontload and not the state legislature, as is the case for the majority of states that have moved thus far this cycle. The Arizona state legislature created a presidential primary (see the history section in the link) during the 1992 session (to take effect in 1996), but amended the statute in 1995 before it had even been tested. The new law (as altered by SB 1263) changed the designation of the election from a primary to a preference election (because the winner would not necessarily appear on the general election ballot), changed the date of the election from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February, and granted the governor the power to issue a proclamation changing the date of the election.

This gubernatorial power went unused through two cycles (1996 and 2000), but as several states moved into February for the 2004 cycle, Gov. Napolitano became the first governor to exercise this power, bumping up the date of the election three weeks to join six other states on the first Tuesday in February. Here is the proclamation from 2004. Just yesterday Gov. Napolitano repeated the action, moving the election to February 5. Here is a link to the governor's press release (click view file under the appropriate Aug. 21st entry).

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