The Other McCain

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Fight Over GOP 2012 Primary Calendar

Posted on | March 31, 2011 | 8 Comments

The 2012 Republican National Convention is scheduled for Tampa, but Florida is trying to monkey around and move up its primary, prompting at least two state chairmen to threaten to strip Florida of the convention. Ben Smith at Politico:

South Carolina Republican Party Chair Karen Floyd today brought into the open the simmering tensions between the traditional early states and the others — particularly Florida — jockeying to break into the primary calendar.
Floyd’s demand: If Florida won’t step aside, the RNC should move its convention out of the state.

Michael O’Brien in The Hill:

The chairman of Iowa’s Republican Party on Thursday backed an effort to possibly move the 2012 Republican National Convention out of Florida if that state sticks to its January primary date.
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said he would join the chairwoman of South Carolina’s Republican Party, Karen Floyd, in an effort to reopen the process to select the site of the 2012 convention, which is slated to be held in Tampa.
“If Florida refuses to move its primary date into compliance with RNC rules, that consequence should be the re-opening of the process to select the site of the 2012 RNC Convention,” Strawn said in a statement.

Let’s hope this threat will be supported by other state GOP chairs, and that Florida stops futzing around. You’ll remember that Florida and Michigan tried to jump the line in 2008, which ended up causing a big fight among Democrat over delegates.

The three first big events of the campaign calendar — the Iowa caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries — ought to be protected in their traditional priority.

Why should this tradition be carved in stone? The basic reason is predictability: Knowing in advance which states go first — because they go first every time — permits candidates who want to “test the waters” to set up early operations in those states. And because all of these three states are relatively small, this means that the early voting to sift the field and sort the frontrunners doesn’t award a decisive number of delegates: Even after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have chosen, the overhwelming bulk of delegates are still up for grabs.

Recent attempts to “front-load” the primary calendar, with other states moving their primaries earlier and earlier, is bad for the process, because it permits less time for candidates to campaign everywhere. As could be seen in the 2008 Democratic primaries, where Obama and Hillary Clinton battled all the way into May, the result of a longer primary campaign is ultimately better-tested candidates.

Meanwhile, there is good news from California:

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation announced Wednesday that it will postpone what was supposed to be the kickoff debate for the GOP presidential nomination contest, moving it from May 2 to Sept. 14. The reason? There aren’t enough candidates ready to debate yet.
There will still be a GOP debate in May. South Carolina, the site of the first 2012 primary in the South, will host a Republican debate on May 5. But with the delay of the Reagan Library debate, the decades-long trend where each successive presidential campaign starts earlier than the last one may finally be ending. Virtually all the potential 2012 GOP candidates are still waiting before launching their campaigns.
“Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May,” John Heubusch, executive director for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday.

This is good news, because it gives me more time to raise money for the Shoe Leather Fund.

Please go read my post about that — it’s “monthly bonus” time, and I’m trying to impress my wife.


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