Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wyoming GOP Split on 2012 Caucuses Date

FHQ has devoted a fair amount of space to the movement of presidential primaries and Democratic caucuses ahead of the 2012 presidential nomination race, but for the most part, the grapevine has been quiet concerning Republican caucuses. Very little information has come out of the state Republican Parties in Alaska, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming about the timing of their caucus meetings next year. Sure, the political science literature will tell us that primaries are more important than caucuses, but these states represent question marks on the landscape of the primary calendar. All six states held opening caucus meetings in 2008 at points that would not be compliant under the 2012 delegate selection rules if used again. For the record, that is not usually a good benchmark for determining when caucuses will be held from cycle to cycle. Indeed, caucus dates are so volatile, that past dates are little help at all. In other words, though we haven't heard much from these state parties regarding their caucus dates, the are question marks and not threats to jump early on the calendar.

Still, if we're trying to figure out the layout of the overall calendar, those dates are information FHQ is interested in. And while I do not foresee most of these states attempting to "stampede" to the front, there is some evidence that at least one on the list might try. Wyoming Republicans, who violated RNC rules in 2008 by holding January 5 caucus meetings, are signaling that they may be willing to repeat the rules-breaking in 2012. But the minutes from the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee meeting in April indicate a split within the group. Here's the description from the Wyoming Republican Party (emphasis is FHQ's):
Fremont County Committeeman, John Birbari, stated that he would like to see our 2012 caucuses moved once again to an earlier date. John Birbari made the motion to move the Presidential caucus to be held before the second Tuesday in March, 2012, Brian Scott Gamroth, seconded the motion. During discussion, Big Horn County Committeeman, Bernie DuMontier, said he enjoyed having the caucus early because he was able to speak to 5 Presidential Candidates. Natrona County Chairman, Miles Dahlby, stated he does not want it moved, due to penalties from the RNC. Jim Bunch agreed. Washakie County Committeewoman, Dru Bower-Moore, and National Committeewoman, Jan Larimer, expressed that they are against an early caucus date. Goshen County Chairman, Doug Chamberlain, made a motion to table the discussion until and the summer meeting. Johnson County Committeeman. Bill Novotny made the second to table the motion until the summer meeting. The motion was tabled until a later date.A Committee with Doug Chamberlain, Greg Schaefer, Brian Scott Gamroth, Bernie DuMontier, David Horning, Kevin Voyles, Diana Vaughn, Dru Bower-Moore and Jan Larimer was formed to work on the issue.
That tells us a few things. First of all, the caucuses are apparently set for the second Tuesday in March, though, there is nothing on the Wyoming Republican Party site to document that other than the reference above. Secondly, that is a date on which the Alabama and Mississippi primaries are scheduled as well as the Hawaii Republican caucuses. Finally, and most importantly, there is some support on the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee to move the caucuses to an earlier date as in 2008. However, there is opposition to that idea on the committee including from the state's Republican National Committeewoman, Jan Larimer.

There is, then, some support for moving up in Wyoming, and the opposition is based on the RNC rules. In any event, the discussion was table and will be taken up at the committee's summer meeting. That meeting is set to take place in Caspar on August 26-27.

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