Friday, July 24, 2009

Presidential Primary Reform Week: The National Association of Secretaries of State's New President

This is part four in a series of posts this week dealing with presidential primary reform. As a refresher you can also look at FHQ's earlier synopsis of several of the various reform proposals that have been talked about and/or considered. The maps are a little clunky, but will suffice for now. I'm planning a revamping of them in the not too distant future. You can also find part one (National Primary with a Twist) here, part two (Two Birds, One Stone) here and the first installment of part three here (second installment here).

As was the case earlier in the week when I brought up the fact that Bill Nelson and Carl Levin had introduced the 2009 version of the Fair and Representative Presidential Primaries Act (FaRPPA), this post won't break any new ground (not in the way that the first two posts in this series did). However, it is an interesting bit of news -- just like the bill before the Senate -- that may have an impact on presidential primary reform.

Earlier this week (on Sunday in fact), Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson was sworn in as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. Now, this is a position that holds a two year term and rotates back and forth between parties each cycle. One cycle a Republican secretary of state will lead the group and in the next, a Democrat will. The twist on this is that this is the same Trey Grayson who has formed an exploratory committee eying the race for the Senate seat now held by John Bunning. The same John Bunning who is seemingly primed for defeat in his 2010 reelection bid.

No one seems particularly high on Bunning's chances of reelection (here, here and here to name a few), but also, no one can predict with any level of certainty what the Hall of Fame pitcher will do in terms of 2010. However, should he bow out and allow his heir apparent, Grayson, to fill the void, there are some implications for primary reform involved. This is completely speculative, as there are several steps involved to even get to the point where Trey Grayson is the junior senator from Kentucky. But in Grayson, the Senate would have another strong advocate of presidential primary reform. He would, however, be someone who would likely tout the National Association of Secretaries of State rotating regional primary plan as opposed to the plan in the FaRPPA legislation. In other words, Trey Grayson would be an advocate of the simpler NASS plan.

Let's have a look at the broad outline of that plan (What? Of course there's a revamped map included.):

[Click to Enlarge]

For the sake of laying this out, I'll compare it to the legislation currently in committee in the Senate. The NASS plan divides the nation into four regions (instead of six) and has all the states in one region holding their contests on the same date (as opposed to the subregional mix and match of FaRPPA). Off the bat, then, there are some noticeable differences between the two plans. The biggest is that the NASS plan continues to grant Iowa and New Hampshire exemptions similar to what the two major parties have been doing for the better part of three decades. Outside of that, the NASS plan has but four contest dates compared to the six subregional affairs in FaRPPA. Iowa and New Hampshire would likely hold their nominating contests some time in February with the four regional contests following in monthly intervals after the first Tuesdays in March, April, May and June. A lottery before the first election this was implemented for would set the sequence and regions would rotate in each subsequent election. If, then, the order for the first election was South, West, Midwest and Northeast, the next election would see the South move to the end of the process with every other region moving up a spot from the previous election (West, Midwest, Northeast and South).

NASS hopes to have the plan adopted by 2012 so that it could be implemented for the 2016 cycle. No, that's probably not what reform advocates have in mind.

Recent Posts:
ABC/WaPo Poll: 2012 GOP Primary--Huckabee Back on Top, but...

Presidential Primary Reform Week: The Fair and Representative Presidential Primaries Act of 2009

Presidential Primary Reform Week: Congressional Action

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