Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Broken Invisible Fences and Scheduling the Missouri Presidential Primary

The AP's Chris Blank is up with a doomsday scenario article about the Missouri presidential primary situation; that the Show Me state nominating contest may be stuck on February 7 with legislation to move the primary to March 6 stuck in the state Senate. FHQ is no stranger to doomsday calendar scenarios. We were talking about Florida as a problem back when it was just one of twenty states with non-compliant contests entering 2011. We were there to shed light on the possibility of December in Des Moines and Manchester when the Florida legislature gave the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee the ability to schedule the primary in the Sunshine state as early as January 3. Those were doomsday scenarios.

Missouri is not.


The gridlock in Missouri has the presidential primary legislation being held hostage in the state Senate as a bargaining chip the Republican-controlled Senate is using against the Republican-controlled House in an effort to produce a jobs/economic development package closer to the Senate's position. That is an undoubtedly ominous situation, but to characterize the Missouri situation as such based on the fact that a meaningless October 1 deadline is approaching is misleading at best. As we have mentioned previously, there are no penalties associated with submitting to the RNC a delegate selection plan following the October 1 date. None. It is like a broken invisible fence. Most dogs don't know any better. They think the electric current is still on and act accordingly. But a few dogs know the circuit has been broken or was never working in the first place. Missouri has been in the former group as have most states during the post-McGovern-Fraser reform era. But now Missouri will potentially join the latter group and find out on Saturday that the RNC is powerless to sanction states with undetermined presidential primary and caucus dates.

If there is pressure on the states associated with October 1, then it is only symbolic. It is not real. As FHQ pointed out last night, the pressure -- to the extent there is any -- is on the Missouri legislature based on the late October-November candidate filing window on the horizon. The Missouri presidential primary may end up on February 7, but that has little or nothing to do with this Saturday's deadline. If need be, the Missouri General Assembly will continue to negotiate up to the statutory mandate ending the special session in November.

Doomsday? Maybe. Deadline? Nope.

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