Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2012 Presidential Primary Movement: The Week in Review (Feb. 21-27)

Another week, another set of presidential primary changes in state legislatures on which to reflect.
  • Moving on up: With the stroke of his pen, Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed into law H 60 and in the process bumped the Gem state's presidential primary (and those for state and local offices as well) up a week to the third Tuesday in May. Idaho becomes the first state in 2011 to change the date on which its 2012 delegate selection event will occur. It joins Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada and the Montana Republicans as the only states (or state parties) to have changed their dates thus far. With two bills having passed the legislature to change the date of Virginia's primary, Idaho likely won' t be alone in that distinction for long, though they will remain the only state to have moved up.
  • Pass it on: The Kansas Senate passed SB 128 this past week. The bill delays the next implementation of the state's presidential primary law to 2016, canceling the 2012 primary. Since the Sunflower state has gone without a presidential primary since 1992, this doesn't come as all that much of a surprise.
  • "Do Pass": This week was also a week that saw a few bills emerge from committee with positive recommendations. In Oklahoma, both SB 808 and HB 1614 came out of committees in their respective chambers with "do pass" designations. Both bills would move the Sooner state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March. [There was a story on the bills' progress in The Oklahoman over the weekend. Thanks to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News for the link.]
In Washington, action on the bills to expressly cancel the state's 2012 presidential primary has seemingly slowed to a crawl. The bill with momentum is HB 1860. It does not directly cancel the primary, but it does tie its use to the decision of the two state parties to not only use the primary but to allocate all of their national convention delegates through that means. After having received a "do pass" from the House Committee on State Government and Tribal Affairs a week ago, HB 1860 got another one from the House Ways and Means Committee as well this past week.
  • Introducing...: Finally, a late add is in order for a bill that was introduced in Massachusetts in January. HB 1972 would move not only the presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in June, but would shift the primaries for state and local offices from September to coincide with the presidential primary. Obviously, budget constraints have been cited by the secretary of state as a potential deterrent to the 2012 primary, but this is one way of circumventing that issue; by combining the two sets of primaries on the same date.
  • Of those 18 primary states, 15 of them (California, Connecticut, Missouri, New York, Arizona, Georgia, Delaware, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia) have convened their 2011 state legislative sessions.
  • Of those 15 states, 7 (California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia) have bills that have been introduced and are active within the state legislature to move their contests' dates back. Both California and New Jersey have bills that would eliminate an early and separate presidential primaries and position those events with the other primaries for state and local offices. That would mean June presidential primaries for both states if those bills pass and are signed into law. In the remaining states, the efforts are to simply shift the states' presidential primaries from dates in violation of the two major parties' rules to the earliest allowed date (the first Tuesday in March). There is also an active bill in Washington, DC to move the districts primary back to June.
  • The Virginia legislature adjourned for the year last Saturday and Utah will follow suit next week on March 10.
  • During this next week, the state legislature in Alabama will convene bringing the total of non-compliant states currently in legislative session to 15. Those 15 early states in conflict with the national parties' rules will be the ones to watch. But we are to a point in the cycle where there are still state legislatures yet to convene but also states that are wrapping up business and are thus unable to make changes to election laws past that point.
  • How would all of this look if all these bills happened to be passed and signed into law? States with active bills to move their primaries are listed twice, once where law has them currently and once in bold and italicized for where active legislation could move them.
Tuesday, January 31: Florida

Tuesday, February 7 (Super Tuesday): Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Utah

Saturday, February 11: Louisiana

Tuesday, February 14: Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia

Saturday, February 18: Nevada Republican caucuses

Tuesday, February 21: Hawaii Republican caucuses, Wisconsin

Tuesday, February 28: Arizona, Michigan

Tuesday, March 6: Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia

Tuesday, March 13: Mississippi

Tuesday, March 20: Colorado caucuses, Illinois

Tuesday, April 3: Kansas, Maryland

Tuesday, April 24: Pennsylvania

Tuesday, May 1: Tennessee

Tuesday, May 8: Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia

Tuesday, May 15: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon

Tuesday, May 22: Arkansas, Kentucky and Washington

Tuesday, June 5: California, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota

Tuesday, June 12: Washington, DC

Tuesday, August 7: Kentucky

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