Wednesday, August 26, 2015

North Carolina Still Doesn't Have a Presidential Primary Date

Just over five weeks ago now, the North Carolina Senate passed legislation scheduling the 2016 presidential primary in the Tar Heel state for March 15. That positioning was purported to have been a deal cut between both the House and Senate to move the North Carolina primary more clearly into compliance with national party rules.1

What seemed like a done deal five weeks ago does not necessarily appear to be such a slam dunk at the moment. Part of this has to do with the current state of play in the North Carolina General Assembly. Due to have adjourned in July, the legislature has been embroiled in an inter-chamber dispute over the budget for the coming fiscal year. Several times since July, the body has had to pass continuing resolutions to fund the state government and buy itself some time to pass a true budget for next year.

But the amended HB 373 -- the bill setting the presidential primary date for March 15 -- passed the state Senate at a time in late July in which non-controversial bills (particularly those not germane to the budget situation) were regularly moving through the chambers. And it appeared that HB 373 was heading toward a similar conclusion. Since it passed the House previously in a different form, the Senate committee substitute to HB 373 with the presidential primary language only required a quick concurrence on the House side. And it looked as if that concurrence would in fact be quick as the bill was added to the House calendar a day after it was received from the Senate. Then, however, the bill was pulled from the calendar and re-referred to the House Committee on Rules where it has been bottled up ever since.

There it sits. Is HB 373 a casualty of the current budget fight? Is it being held in the House as a means of attempting to extract concessions out of the Senate in the budget negotiations?2 The answer is that we don't know. But what we do know is that the North Carolina presidential primary is still tethered to the February South Carolina primary and that carries with it some ramifications for the state parties in the Tar Heel state as 2016 approaches.

1 As it stands now, the North Carolina presidential primary is scheduled for the Tuesday after the South Carolina primary. And with carve-out state South Carolina likely to end up in February, the result for North Carolina -- given the current state law -- would be a non-compliant primary that would subject the state Republican Party to the so-called super penalty (reduction to 12 delegates) and potentially open the Democratic Party in the state to more severe penalties as well.

2 The budget impasse as mentioned above is an inter-chamber affair pitting majority Senate Republicans against Republicans controlling the House.

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: