Parties seek to restore primary sanity

July 18, 2010


With little public attention, the two national parties are on the verge of restoring some sanity to the presidential primary schedule and making other changes that could impact the 2012 race.

Besides delaying any contests until early February, the changes would require most primaries and caucuses to be held in March or later and make it harder for any Republican to clinch the nomination quickly.

They would also require date changes by 40 states that held 2008 primaries or caucuses in January and February. Texas still could vote on the first Tuesday in March, but it might find many other states sharing the date.

Both parties’ national committees will meet next month to ratify proposals from special party panels that operated separately but in tandem. The changes would permit only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to hold pre-March tests — but forbid them before Feb. 1.

That would prevent a repeat of 2008, when states rushing to move up primaries led to Iowa caucuses and a New Hampshire primary in early January and intensive campaigning over the Christmas holidays.

Perhaps the most potentially consequential Republican change would reduce the number of winner-take-all primaries — and perhaps prompt some state parties to abandon primaries that attract a broader electorate in favor of caucuses that favor more conservative elements, such as tea party activists.

Chances of GOP approval are enhanced by the likely support of Morton Blackwell, Virginia’s veteran national committeeman and a key opponent of major rules changes for four decades.

He said these changes would slow the headlong rush toward a de facto national primary. “My guess is that this will pass,” he said. But he predicted that requiring states choosing delegates in March to divide them proportionally — or face losing half of their allocation — won’t succeed in its goal of extending the process by encouraging later state primaries or caucuses.

Texas National Committeeman Bill Crocker remains unconvinced.

“I really do not like institutionalizing Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada” as early tests, he said. “They do not reflect in any way the preferences of Texans” and the national GOP.

He also doubted the legality of requiring proportional representation, which would impact Texas if it kept its March primary. “Unless somebody changes my mind with some really good arguments, I’m going to vote against it and encourage people to vote against it,” he said.

The proposed rules changes require a two-thirds’ majority and can’t be amended when the Republican National Committee meets Aug. 6 in Kansas City.

GOP acceptance depends on the Democratic National Committee approving a similar calendar Aug. 19-20 in St. Louis. The Democratic plan also cuts the number of party and elected officials guaranteed “super delegate” seats. But party leaders expect the main impact in 2016, unless unexpected opposition develops to re-nominating President Barack Obama.

The Democrats would set the Iowa caucuses Feb. 6, New Hampshire primary Feb. 14, Nevada caucuses Feb. 18 and South Carolina primary Feb. 28. The Republicans say the four can vote in February but don’t specify dates.

However, if the plans pass, both parties would hold their Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary on the same date.

Republican adoption of some proportional representation, a procedure Democrats have long required for all delegates, could trigger some interesting fallout.

A candidate who lost early Republican tests could stay in the race in hopes of a rebound, as Hillary Clinton did against Obama in the 2008 Democratic race. Mitt Romney, for instance, might have stayed in longer against John McCain that year.

But some Republicans fear it could prompt some states to avoid losing delegates by switching from primary to caucus systems. The requirement only affects the actual selection of delegates, which happens in caucus states like Iowa later in the process.

One big unanswered question: Will some states undermine the new schedule by resisting the changes?

— Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. carl.p.leubsdorf@gmail.com


Richard Heckler 7 years, 11 months ago

Dump the special interest money system that our elected officials love so much. That would remove the 6-8 hours a day they spend chasing money. Instead they could spend that time doing what they were elected to do.

Change the system completely. That would fair to the voters who pay the bills.

The USA House and Senate has to be the most arrogant body of government on the planet.

Then comes those politicians on special interest campaign money payroll who weasel around issues. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/12/AR2009061204075.html

Veterans would be far better off with National Health Insurance. Instead vets are getting ignored and insurance companies are getting more corporate welfare: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/18/politics/washingtonpost/main4873963.shtml

Why do americans fall over themselves over incumbent political media stars and fat cats? Have we not learned that these people NEVER make things better they just continue the corporate welfare and watch american jobs go abroad. It really stinks!

STOP sending the same faces back to Washington it is doing none of us any good.

The parties, news media and corporate america decide who OUR candidates should be for local,state or federal level representation. Why do we allow them to decide considering there are billions more of us?

The media has become a large part of the special interest takeover of our process as if they know what is best for all of us. Voters support this takeover by voting for those candidates who spend the most money and the question is why? The media loves those big campaign dollars

Richard Heckler 7 years, 11 months ago

Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths.

Replace 95% of all elected officials every 4 years for the house and every 6 years for the Senate.

Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing.

Lets’s demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/ Demand a change on the next ballot.

Incumbents say NO to the voters while officials live in glass houses and digest corrupt money.

We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue. http://www.publicampaign.org/

Who would be against Public Funding? The special interest money providers plus their bought and paid for politicians!

Demand all presidential candidates participate in debates NOT only those selected by the media and two parties.

Is it possible we're not getting the sharpest cookies on the block?

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