Thursday, March 31, 2011

Conflicting Signals in Missouri

Primary bills in both the Missouri House and Senate had been ready for a floor vote for a few days (The first time SB 282 appeared on the formal calendar for a vote was last Friday.), but both came up for a vote today. Originally, SB 282 and HB 503 called for moving the Missouri presidential primary from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. The House version of the bill retained that move, but the Senate version was amended to strike the March date which was replaced with language that scheduled the date of the Show Me state presidential primary for one week after the New Hampshire primary -- regardless of where New Hampshire is positioned.

Obviously, the House version would bring Missouri back into compliance with the national parties' rules for the timing of delegate selection events. The Senate bill, on the other hand, would continue to flout those rules -- taking an already out of compliance primary and shifting it anchored to New Hampshire. What's striking is that after a nearly even split in the vote on the amendment to change the target date (16-14), the vote for the full bill today got nearly unanimous support (29-3). That means a great many Democratic legislators voted for the plan. This happened in Florida in 2007, too. Democrats supported the bill before they were against it. Florida Democrats voted for the measure to move the Sunshine state's primary to the last Tuesday in January but cried foul when the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee stripped the state of all of its delegates in reaction. But Missouri Democrats have something in 2011 that Florida Democrats -- also in the minority -- didn't: a Democratic governor. Even if this plan makes it through the House, then, Governor Jay Nixon's veto can save them. some extent. If the one week after New Hampshire version passes the House, goes to Nixon and is vetoed, the Missouri primary is still scheduled for February 7, in violation of national party rules. Speculating that the bill will get to that point is one thing. It actually happening is another. There is no indication at this point that the House, which passed a move to March plan, will go along with the Senate's changes.

No comments: