Friday, September 2, 2011

Brewer Scratches January 31 Primary and Keeps Arizona's Options Open

Again, much ado about a debate.

This is now the second time this year that Arizona Republicans have threatened to unravel the formation of the 2012 presidential primary calendar. First, the state party signaled they were ready to pass and then voted down a resolution that would have urged Governor Jan Brewer to use her proclamation power to move the Grand Canyon state's presidential primary to an earlier date. And now, just over seven months later, after a month of doubt, Governor Brewer has decided to pass on a January 31 presidential primary date that would have forced at least five other states into January as well and the calendar into a heighten level of chaos.

On this, the day before she would have had to have set a January 31 date, Brewer has opted to accept an RNC-sanctioned debate and to keep her options open in terms of the date. The new date to watch in Arizona is September 30. If Brewer is to move the date at all from its current February 28 position, she will have to act before October 1 -- 150 days before the February 28 primary, and ironically enough, the RNC deadline for setting a date. Realistically though, if the primary is to be moved to a Tuesday the deadlines will be September 24 for a February 21 primary, September 17 for a February 14 primary and September 10 for a February 7 primary.

As always, stay tuned to FHQ for the latest.

Here's the press release from Governor Brewer's office:

Statement by Governor Jan Brewer
Arizona Presidential Debate“I’m thrilled today to learn that Arizona has preliminarily been awarded a presidential debate sanctioned by the Republican National Committee. This is a tremendous opportunity, as Arizona will be one of just a handful of states to play host to an RNC debate. Additionally, I’m hopeful this debate will make certain that the major presidential candidates travel to Arizona, speak with our voters and address issues unique to the Southwest.  
“Arizona is a battleground for critical issues ranging from illegal immigration to Medicaid reform and the housing crisis. Our voters deserve to hear the presidential candidates speak to these and other important matters. 
“Just as important as what I’m announcing today is what I’m not announcing: a formal date for Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election. I will for the time being keep my options open. 
“With whatever date I choose, my goal remains the same as ever: To provide Arizona voters the biggest possible platform with which to impact the presidential nomination process. In such a critical election, this is a decision that is owed careful consideration.”

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Anonymous said...

It seeems that this only insures that the contests start in January. With Minnesota locked into Feb 7, I don't see Iowa, NH,SC, or Nevada going after that. If Florida wants to be fifth then the latest they could go would be Jan 31. Assuming Missouri and New Jersey move out of Feb 7, could the RNC pressure Minnesota Republicans to set a seperate caucus at a later date like the Democrats are doing? That would at least allow the contests to start in mid January.

Josh Putnam said...

Today's news out of Arizona reduces the chances of the primary calendar kicking off in December to almost zero -- and it was already pretty slight anyway. In my conversations with various members of the media they have all, almost to a person, said that the campaigns themselves have been operating under the assumption that the calendar would start in January for quite a while now. Now we're left to speculate just when in January things will start.

That's my way of saying that I don't think Minnesota is going anywhere. The RNC dismissed the possibility of a non-binding caucus affecting things when the Minnesota law triggered the February 7 caucus date in March and they have remained quiet on the subject ever since. Given the current circumstances, it would be nice to have a revised view from the RNC, but I'm not expecting it.

I also don't think that we'll see any effort on the part of the RNC to strongarm Minnesota Republicans into a later date. I don't know. I'd like to see the campaigns' take on that. That is a question that needs to be asked at some point. Will Romney and Perry just cede the caucuses in Minnesota to Bachmann and focus on other contests? Probably not, though that is one way to neutralize her and the results of the contest. Of course, if this gets down a delegate count -- or looks like it will -- the Perry and Romney camps may reconsider.

Mid-January or early January starts are going to depend on how much space the early states and probably Florida are going to want between their contests. We should have a better idea of what's to come as September progresses.