Thursday, September 24, 2015

North Carolina Moving Closer to March 15 Presidential Primary

The conference committee report on HB 373, the bill to shift the North Carolina presidential primary as well as its primaries for state and local offices to March 15, is on the calendar in both the House and Senate of the General Assembly today. That report is a compromise hammered out between the two Republican-controlled chambers and is expected to pass through each.

The bill would not only create a consolidated primary on March 15, but would also change the baseline delegate allocation called for in state law to winner-take-all from proportional. The latter is a change from the standard operating procedure that the North Carolina parties have used throughout much of the post-reform era. The former re-consolidates the two sets of primaries after the separate presidential primary was created in 2013 and tethered -- against national party delegate selection rules -- to the South Carolina primary. That violation required a move of the presidential primary and consideration of that move prompted the impetus for moving the typically May primaries for other offices to March as well.

Thus, this legislation would completely reshape North Carolina's position and meaning in 2016 presidential nomination processes. Instead of being on the wrong side of the calendar in May -- typically after some candidate has reached the requisite number of delegates required to clinch a nomination -- the Tar Heel state will have some measure of influence in 2016. What that influence is remains to be determined by, among other things, the number of active and viable candidates who remain on or as the process approaches March 15.

Rather than put out multiple posts, FHQ will track the process in this space, updating as news emerges.

UPDATE (12pm): The North Carolina Senate passed HB 373 by a 30-13 vote.
UPDATE (3:30pm): The North Carolina House narrowly passed HB 373 by a 52-49 vote.

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