Thursday, February 19, 2015

North Carolina: Staying Rogue for 2016?

There has been a lot of talk about presidential primary movement in former rogue states Florida and Michigan today. Both seem to be playing nice for 2016, but talk of Florida and Michigan defiance is so 2008.

...and 2012.

As FHQ has tried to point out since July 2013,1 North Carolina represents a bigger and trickier threat to the carve-out states and the orderliness of the 2016 presidential primary calendar than any other state. Others are starting to take note:
North Carolina is ready to go rogueBoth parties have rules about their presidential nominating calendars, and the Republican National Committee is especially eager to assert more control over the schedule, debates and more heading into 2016. 
But CNN's Peter Hamby says North Carolina wants more impact on presidential politics -- even if it means sanctions.

Remember, as a table setter, Iowa votes first, followed by New Hampshire and then South Carolina.

"North Carolina passed a statute last year that said they are going to go the week after South Carolina, one of the first four states in the Republican nominating process," said Hamby.

"So three days after these first four states, you could have a state with a lot of big media markets and a lot of voters right square in the middle of this nominating fight. And the people I've talked to in North Carolina, in the Republican Party there, say they do not care at all if the Republican National Committee penalizes them with delegates or whatever; they want the attention, they want to be square out front."
There is not much new here other than an apparent willingness within the North Carolina Republican Party to go for broke regardless of potential penalties the party may face for holding a primary so close to the presidential primary in South Carolina and before the first Tuesday in March. Of course, it will not ultimately be up to the North Carolina Republican Party to decide to maintain or change the date of the presidential primary.

That task is left up the Republican-controlled General Assembly.2 We know there is some resistance to change in the legislature. North Carolina state Senator Andrew Brock, who tried for years to move the North Carolina presidential primary date up on the calendar, has spoken out in support of the go for broke stance the North Carolina GOP has. Yet, one of the three Republican National Committee members from the Tar Heel state --RNC committeeman David Lewis -- is a member of the North Carolina House. There is resistance to changing that date, but a natural in-road for the RNC to apply pressure if need be.

All of this leaves us with a series of questions that need answering.
  1. How widespread is support for the South Carolina-tethered North Carolina presidential primary in the North Carolina General Assembly?
  2. What are Republican National Committeeman David Lewis' thoughts on the matter? Has he pointed out that North Carolina Republicans would face an over 80% penalty on their national convention delegation in 2016 for holding a primary before March 1?
  3. What do legislators who support the early primary say about that 80% penalty? Do they even know the RNC rules changed, increasing the penalty from 50% of the delegation (in 2012)?
  4. How about the RNC? Have they weighed in on this situation? Have they attempted to reach out to their members in North Carolina about the ramifications of a likely February primary? 
Basically, we already know/knew North Carolina was in a provocative calendar position. We knew that in the summer of 2013. But what can we information can we add to that to fill out this picture? Answering the above questions would go a long way toward finding out where things really stand.

Thanks to Mystery Politico for passing this news along to FHQ.

1 The North Carolina General Assembly passed an omnibus elections package in a special session during the summer of 2013, not last year as indicated in the CNN blurb.

2 CNN's Peter Hamby does mention that the state legislature will discuss the matter of the presidential primary during its 2015 session in the video posted along with the outtake from above.

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