Monday, January 6, 2014

Primary Movement Starts with the State Legislatures: The 2014 State Legislative Session Calendar

The name of the action may have changed since the last time FHQ did this in 2011, but if we're going to follow along as states shuffle -- or don't shuffle -- around on the 2016 presidential primary calendar, that activity will happen on the state level.

…in the state legislatures (for primaries).

A number of state legislatures return to work today, but their start points stretch out across the first half of 2014. From the National Conference of State Legislatures:

Midterm years are not normally times for states to begin calendar jockeying. The national parties have yet to finalize their respective sets of delegate selection rules to govern the 2016 presidential nomination processes after all. That will happen later this year. However, that does not mean that there will not be legislation introduced that will affect when presidential primaries will be held in two years. Nor does it mean that the national parties will not begin to preemptively exert some pressure on political actors on the state level in states that may potentially cause some problems in 2016.

A few to keep an eye on in 2014:
1) Arizona:
The governor does have the power of proclamation to move the primary up but not back on the calendar. If the discrepancy in Rules 16 and 17 of the current RNC rules is resolved, then both Arizona and Michigan will find themselves in a bind at a point on the calendar one week ahead of the March 1 position all states other than the four carve-outs can fall on or after. The bottom line in the Grand Canyon state (and further east in the Great Lakes state) is that it is going to require state legislative action to move the primaries in each around.

2) Michigan:
See Arizona, minus the gubernatorial proclamation power.

3) Missouri:
The Show-Me state presidential primary is technically -- or will technically -- be in violation of the RNC (and likely DNC) rules on the first Tuesday in February. The state legislature there has also proven inept in 2011, 2012 and 2013 at moving the primary into compliance. FHQ would be surprised if there is not another attempt to move the 2016 election back during the 2014 session. But it is far from clear that the outcome will be any different now than in previous years. Regardless, the Missouri Republican Party is likely to trigger caucuses for allocating delegates in 2016 -- just like the party did in 2011 -- to avoid penalty if the state government proves resistant to moving the contest.

4) North Carolina:
The General Assembly in Raleigh will not reconvene for 2014 until May and even then the duration of the session is very short. Still, the omnibus elections bill passed during a special session during the summer of 2013 anchored the North Carolina presidential primary to South Carolina's. That will put the Tar Heel state in the crosshairs of both national parties penalties. The presidential primary provision added to the bill (and ultimate law) was also inserted last minute by the state Senate and rather than risk killing the bill, the state House -- a member of which is the national committeeman to the RNC from North Carolina -- opted to go along. But that did not mean that the primary move was kosher with everyone. FHQ has been told by a couple of sources that efforts are likely to be made later this year to bring the North Carolina primary back into compliance with the likely national party rules.

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