Yesterday's look at Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's posturing on the Peach state presidential primary date indirectly started this examination. But of greater import are the reactions from the bigger threats to the 2012 presidential primary calendar in the wake of the RNC decision last week to defer on tougher sanctions for rogue presidential primary states. Thus far, the three main threats -- Arizona, Florida and Michigan -- have offered three different reactions ranging from silence to mixed signals to fairly clear intentions.
The silence is from Arizona. Well, silence may not be the best way of describing things in the Grand Canyon state. However, the fact that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's spokesman is singing the same "leaning toward moving the primary to January 31" song in virtually every article he is quoted in amounts to the same thing. If the song remains the same in Arizona, the story is overall unchanged. In other words, at the very least, Arizona is leveraging the ability to set such an early date to bargain for a more advantageous position on the calendar. At its most threatening, Arizona Republicans are simply ignoring the RNC and intend to hold a January 31 primary regardless. FHQ is still inclined to believe the former narrative, but the steady drumbeat of "leaning toward January 31" talk from Phoenix may eventually push the needle toward the latter.
In Florida, the signals are mixed. On the one hand, there is continued talk of a compromise predicated on the following notion (via William March at The Tampa Tribune):
A primary on Feb. 28 or later, [RNC committee member of Haines City, Florida, Paul] Senft said, technically would violate the rules but wouldn't interfere with plans by both national parties to have Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina hold the nation's first primaries and caucuses in February.But the fact that March later points out that Florida Governor Rick Scott -- among other Florida Republicans -- wants to go fifth, and thus ahead of a possible January 31 Arizona primary, jibes well with what Republican National Committeeman from Michigan, Saul Anuzis, had to say following the RNC meeting in Tampa regarding Arizona and Florida:
Arizona and Florida seem determined to go early…even earlier than February 28th.Florida, then, appears to be torn between holding an early primary and holding an early primary, but with the condition of going fifth. Florida's willingness or unwillingness to break from that "fifth and fifth only" condition may determine just how chaotic the primary calendar will end up. Arizona will be the first domino to fall, though.
We spent a lot of time discussing Michigan’s upcoming State Committee meeting and our pending decision about having a February 28th primary as currently statutorily set or the possibility of a caucus and moving the date back into March.
There is legislation currently before the Michigan House that would move the primary in the Wolverine state to January 31, but Michigan Republicans seem inclined to stick with the status quo -- February 28 -- or move back into March with a caucus. The latter seems to be a failsafe option if either the Republican-controlled legislature (and governor) act against the state party's wishes or the national party decides to hit non-compliant primary states -- even those on February 28 -- with much tougher penalties later.
The bottom line is that it very much looks as if Michigan is at this point a lesser threat to the primary calendar than Arizona and Florida (or Georgia depending on the Peach state's willingness to follow the Sunshine state into January). The answer to the Michigan question will depend to a large degree on what transpires at the Michigan Republican State Committee meeting later this month.
1 The Tampa Tribune's William March backs this assertion up with an indirect quote from Anuzis to the same effect in his "compromise" article as well:
Michigan RNC member Saul Anuzis said Republicans in his state will set a date next week, probably for Feb. 28.