FHQ just spoke with Maine Democratic Party Executive Director Mary Erin Casale about the apparent date change and the motivation behind the move. The Maine Democratic Party Executive Committee made the decision to shift to the earlier date and that move was finalized at the State Committee meeting on January 22. [It should be noted that the call to the Maine Democratic Convention posted on or before January 9 mentioned the February caucus date.] The primary motivating factor behind moving the Democratic municipal caucuses from March 11 to February 26 was that the earlier caucuses would help down-ballot candidates for state House and Senate collect the required signatures ahead of a March 15 deadline. The earlier organizing effort would mean that there is more time in which to complete the collection.
Whether for the presidential delegate selection process or those down-ballot races, the move to February 26 raises another set of questions. Namely, either A) does the move to a date before March 6 require a waiver from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (Was it granted?) or B) in what other way does the move comply with the Democratic National Committee's rules on delegate selection? According to Ms. Casale the first determining step -- the one the Democratic Party eyes in these matters of compliance -- will not occur at the February 26 uniform municipal caucuses. There is no required presidential preference vote at those meetings, but caucusgoers and potential delegates to the next step in the process are free to make their preference known. This is all made easier by the fact that President Obama is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The official first step will occur during county meetings to occur throughout March but after March 6; the earliest date on which non-exempt states can hold a primary or caucus according to the DNC rules. That keeps the state party in compliance with the national party rules. Delegates to the state convention will be chosen at the county meetings.
Since the Maine Democratic caucuses on February 26 will produce no presidential nomination results, FHQ will keep Maine as a March state on our calendar and maps. Maine differs from Minnesota in that the latter will actually have a presidential preference vote at the state-funded caucuses on February 7, but the results will not be affirmed until March 6.
Are you following FHQ on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.