Now, one may ask, "So what?" The 2016 presidential nomination process is three years away. The bulk of calendar jockeying that will take place for the cycle will be in full tilt in two years time. In other words, it is still early. In 2009, there were 13 bills introduced across ten states to shift the dates of 2012 presidential primaries. Only one was successful: the Arkansas state legislature voted to move the Natural state primary back to May.
Four years later, the activity at the state legislative level is not all that different. Thus far during the 2013 sessions, eight bills have been submitted to state legislative chambers in six states. Three of those eight bills are out of Missouri; a residual of the failed attempt in the Show-Me state to move the primary back for 2012. If any of those eight bills are to pass and be signed into law, Missouri is likely at the top of the list of likely movers. The state has to move back for 2016 to come back into compliance with national party rules. The rest just are not all that likely to go anywhere; not in 2013 anyway.
That is the story or seemed like the story in Arizona. Rep. Lovas' bill was filed just after the new year began, did not garner any real attention outside of Arizona and FHQ's world,1 and more importantly did not seem to have any support outside of the bill's sponsor/author.
Yet, the RNC saw enough of a threat in the bill to warrant a sit down with the Arizona representative. Whether it was precautionary or not, this is a proactive step on the part of the RNC. One of the things that FHQ harped on during all of 2011 was the seemingly gaping hole in communications between the national parties and state legislatures. State legislators either ignored the parties' delegate selection rules or did not understand them. National party outreach has not been all that necessary in the post-reform era, but has become so since Florida and Michigan in 2008. One could argue that this is national party intervention, but it would probably be better defined as a better flow of information/communication between those involved in the process. That is a good thing: everyone understanding (or at least having the information in order to start understanding) the ins and outs of the nomination process.
Still, what plagues the national parties is the fact that no matter what the penalties are, there are still states willing to flaunt the rules and take the penalties as they have existed until now. That has changed for 2016 with a stiffer sanction on the Republican side. As the 2013 state legislative session continue -- but especially as the process moves into 2015 -- that will be the test:
Are the new sanctions enough to stop states that have exhibited a willingness to break the rules to go early in the past?
1 That included New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner who raised the issue of the Arizona bill with FHQ on the side of the National Association of Secretaries of State winter meeting in late January.
Maine in 2016
Amended House Bill Would Also Move Missouri Primary to March
More on the RNC Rules and Presidential Primary Debates