Monday, October 29, 2007

Jan. 3 for Iowa Democrats too

CQPolitics is reporting that yesterday the central committee of the Iowa Democratic Party chose January 3, 2008 as the date for the party's caucuses.

It is now up to New Hampshire secretary of state, Bill Gardner, to finalize the calendar for the 2008 presidential nomination cycle. That decision is supposed to come sometime during the month of November. The ace up the secretary's sleeve is the threat to move the state's primaries to December 11, 2007, tearing down the precedent that delegate selection events should take place in the same year as the general election. Michigan senator, Carl Levin, has issued a counter-threat to have Michigan go on the same date as New Hampshire if the Granite State opts for a date earlier than when Michigan is currently positioned on January 15. This seems like a move to almost dare New Hampshire to move to December 11; a move that would undoubtedly spur talks of reforming the system of determining which states go first or which states go when. New Hampshire and Iowa have the most to lose in that scenario.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Iowa GOP to Jan. 3...for now

The Iowa Republican party acted on Tuesday, October 16, to move the party's 2008 presidential caucuses to January 3. The move (from January 14) once again restores, at least for now, one of Iowa's parties to the traditional first in the nation position. As The Caucus blog indicated in a post yesterday though, the party was set to discuss the "pros and cons" of a January 3 or 5 date for the GOP caucuses, with a lean toward the 3rd. I'm a bit surprised to hear that Iowa Republicans went ahead and made the move, especially since there are rumors swirling that New Hampshire may make the leap in to 2007 with a December 11 primary (for both parties).

As the calendar stands now:
Jan. 3: Iowa GOP caucuses
Jan. 5: Wyoming GOP caucuses
Jan. 14: Iowa Dems caucuses
Jan. 15: Michigan primary
Jan. 19: Nevada caucuses, South Carolina primary
Jan. 22: New Hampshire primary
Jan. 29: Florida primary
Feb. 5: Super Tuesday

Now let's play Fact or Fiction:
  • Fiction: Iowa Dems on January 14. I would be surprised if the Iowa Democrats do not end up on the same date as the state GOP, whenever that is (December 3 or January 3).
  • Fiction: New Hampshire on January 22. New Hampshire will either go on January 8 or December 11.
  • Fact: Wyoming GOP, South Carolina, Florida and Michigan are more than likely set. Never say never, though, when it comes to 2008 presidential primary/caucus dates.
  • Fact: Nevada may or may not move from January 19 to January 12. It is under consideration.
  • Fact: Both parties' nominations will be decided on February 5.
The pool of early states will stay the same, but the order has yet to be solidified. The ball is in New Hampshire's (or Secretary of State Bill Gardner's) court now. And that decision is suppose to come sometime next month.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Move of all Moves

January 22 never was going to be the date of the New Hampshire presidential primary in 2008; at least not after states like Florida, and to a greater extent, Michigan began encroaching on the state's first in the nation turf. Recently the speculation then has centered on New Hampshire going on January 8, 2008. Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, said recently that the state would hold its 2008 primary at least two weeks earlier than the fourth Tuesday in January date used during the 2004 race. And the second Tuesday in January 2008 is January 8.

This week however, Gardner and those around him, hinted that another date is being considered: December 11. That's the bombshell that has been out there since everyone began crowding New Hampshire and Iowa; a move that both states were hoping to avoid, but became almost inevitable following Michigan's move to January 15.

So, New Hampshire's legislature ceded the decision to place the primary date to the Secretary of State in 1975, freeing the state to move the presidential primary date with the least amount of resistance. If Michigan were to react, another special session of the state legislature would have to be convened to get the move passed. There was Democratic resistance within the legislature over the move to January 15 and any move to an even earlier date, would surely face greater scrutiny than its predecessor. In other words, Michigan and New Hampshire are not on a level playing field in this regard.

Now let the chain reaction commence. If New Hampshire is on December 11, will Iowa move to December 3, the traditional eight days ahead of the New Hampshire primary? Or will the Democratic and Republican parties in Iowa be content to be the first caucus in the nation, and not THE first contest overall? If past experience tells us anything, it is that Iowa will lean toward the former. If either or both moves come to pass, then I will have been off by a week in my guess (IA on Dec. 10 and NH on Dec. 18). But earlier is earlier, I suppose, at least in the minds of New Hampshirites and Iowans.

If this happens, the candidates had better get cracking because December 11 is less than two months away.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Who Thought the Ride was Over?

After a quiet month on the frontloading front, it looks like the efforts are set to begin anew. And no, not for 2012. The dust has settled on the Florida and Michigan moves, but that has only triggered action on the part of the four states granted exemptions by the Democratic National Committee. Sure, Iowa and New Hampshire were always going to wait it out and set their dates at the last possible moment (Note: Both national parties' deadlines to set primary and caucus dates passed last month.), but now Nevada and South Carolina are taking a "Hey, we're exempt too" approach. "And since we're exempt, you wouldn't mind if we go ahead and move up a week or so, would you?"

With Florida smack dab on top of them on January 29, South Carolina Democrats now want the Democratic primary in the state to coincide with the Republican primary on January 19 according to The Caucus blog on the New York Times web site. The difference here is that South Carolina Democrats are not going it alone like Florida and Michigan before them. With the exemption from the national party still in place, they are going through the DNC to get the move on the books.

This line of thought seems to be prevailing further west in Nevada as well. Members of both state parties are discussing a move to January 12 (from January 19 where South Carolina is setting up shop) for both caucuses. The LA Times Top of the Ticket blog is reporting that such a move has been and is being discussed within the state and that party leaders there are waiting on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to move first. Waiting on South Carolina is one thing, but with this being the first high-profile caucus ever in Nevada, organizing this thing and playing a game of chicken with the pros from Iowa and New Hampshire is a different can of worms entirely.

And if those two potential moves were not enough, Iowa Republicans are eyeing January 3 as a possible spot for the caucuses there. The Caucus reports that that date is the recommendation of the state GOP's central committee. Interestingly, state Democrats are considering a January 5 caucus date; a rare date split between the two Hawkeye State parties.

What about New Hampshire, you ask? Well, word out of the Granite State is that Secretary of State Gardner has indicated that a date at least two weeks prior to the date used in 2004 is likely. For those of you scoring at home, that would be the second Tuesday in January at the latest (January 8). Regardless, the date is to be set within the next month. Thanks to Ballot Access News for that.

So here's the potential calendar as of October 8 (January dates only):
Thursday Jan. 3: Iowa GOP caucuses
Saturday Jan. 5: Iowa Dem. caucuses, Wyoming GOP caucuses
Tuesday Jan. 8: New Hampshire Dem./GOP primaries
Saturday Jan. 12: Nevada Dem./GOP caucuses
Tuesday Jan. 15: Michigan Dem./GOP primaries
Saturday Jan. 19: South Carolina Dem./GOP primaries
Tuesday Jan. 29: Florida Dem./GOP primaries

Iowa and New Hampshire might be trying to avoid moving into 2007, but it is looking pretty crowded up there at the front. Stay tuned.