FHQ has done some maintenance to our 2016 presidential primary calendar this week. Mostly that meant repairing some broken links to the primary date statutes in the various states, but also included double-checking the language of those statutes. On that latter front, we came across an unusual situation/oversight concerning the positioning of the 2016 presidential primary in New York.
The bill(s) the New York state legislature passed in 2011 called for the presidential primary in the Empire state to be moved from the first Tuesday in February to April 24, 2012. The specificity of that language -- actually naming the day and year rather than a point on the calendar -- meant that New York would at the conclusion of the 2012 cycle not have a date covered by the New York Election Code. Translation: There was no date for the primary in 2016 and beyond. That is how FHQ has been treating the New York situation in the time since.
However, in double-checking the language of the current law, FHQ was somewhat taken aback in finding out that the election code (Section 8-100) calls for the presidential primary -- or spring primary -- to be conducted on the first Tuesday in February. After looking back at the bills that went through the state Assembly and Senate, the reason was pretty simple (albeit buried at the end of the legislation). Both bills -- A8363 and S5753 -- included in the last paragraph a sunset provision that repealed all the changes the bill made. Basically then, the 2011 change from the first Tuesday in February to April 24, 2014 expired at the conclusion of 2012. In other words, New York shot back up the calendar to a position that makes the state's presidential primary a bigger threat to the ideal calendar the two national parties have attempted to create through their respective sets of delegate selection rules.
But just because New York looks like a threat to the established order of states -- or more importantly where they fall on the calendar -- it does not mean that the Empire state will actually be a threat in 2015 or 2016. That possibility exists -- which is likely more than either national party wants -- but it is probable, likely even, that the state government will do in 2015 what they did in 2011: move to a later and compliant date that suits New York.
What that means depends in part on which party (or combination of parties) controls the state legislature after the 2014 elections. The first Tuesday in February is less likely because of the national party sanctions that date would trigger, but anything between that point and March is a safe bet at this point. New York could also shift back to late April as well, a spot where several neighboring states were in 2012 and currently are for 2016. There are other niches earlier in the calendar that could be exploited as well. The bottom line is that this introduces some uncertainty where the positioning of the New York presidential primary is concerned. And given the February date called for in state law, that is a date that has to change in light of national party rules.
State GOP parties jockey for primary calendar advantage
Revisiting the 2016 Republican Delegate Selection Rules
Update: 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar (8/26/14)
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