2012 Electoral Calendar Taking Shape

Meeting in Kansas City, the Republican National Committee adopted a new schedule for the 2012 presidential primaries on Friday. The new plan pushes back the start of the first contests to the first Tuesday in February. Under the new schedule, no state would hold a primary or caucus before February 6, 2012. Iowa and New Hampshire retain their status as the nation's first contests while South Carolina and Nevada are also allowed to hold February events.

Other states would begin holding their primaries or caucuses in March though most contests would come in April or May. The new schedule will go into effect only if the Democratic National Committee adopts similar primary rules before the end of the year.

The RNC also voted to retain its proportional awarding of delegates rather switch to a winner take all system. From the Washington Post:

The proposal, drafted by a special RNC panel, gained approval from more than the necessary two-thirds of the committee's 168 members.

Party leaders hailed the vote as a historic change in the presidential selection process, one that would avoid the development of a single national primary in which states choose to hold their nominating contests on the same day.

The new schedule is designed to make it difficult for a candidate to rack up an insurmountable number of delegates early in the process, forcing candidates to campaign across the country.

Under the new schedule, no state would hold a primary or caucus before the first Tuesday in February 2012, in attempt to avoid a repetition of 2008, when the Iowa caucuses were held Jan. 3.

Iowa and New Hampshire would retain their status as the nation's first contests, held in February, joined by South Carolina and Nevada.

Other contests would generally be held in April or later, although states would have the option of holding votes in March, provided convention delegates chosen at those elections were awarded to candidates in proportion to the percentage of the vote they received, rather than in a winner-take-all system.

The use of primaries to select presidential candidates is rare outside the United States. In parliamentary systems political parties, of course, choose their leaders in a intra-party vote. In many countries, the selection of the presidential candidate is hand-picked by party leaders or a party directorate. In Brazil, it was outgoing President Ignácio Lula da Silva who picked his top aide Dilma Rousseff to be the candidate of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), the Workers' Party. 

To my knowledge only Argentina, Chile, Colombia, México and South Africa have some sort of presidential primary to choose candidates of the various respective political parties. In each of these cases, a national primary is held on the same day. And only Colombia allows non-party members to vote in the primaries of a political party. The Chilean left, however, has generally held a primary to choose a single candidate from the various parties that form the La Concertación, a grouping that includes Marxist to Christian Democratic parties. In Argentina, only registered Peronists can vote in the Peronist primary just as in México, the PRI primary is limited to members of the PRI. 

The idea of a national primary has been a progressive goal since the Taft Administration and next year will mark the centennial of the first legislative proposal, that of Alabama Congressman Richard Hobson, to hold a national primary. Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both supported the idea.

It's striking that GOP leaders are hailing this new schedule because it avoids the development of a single national primary. By holding the first contests in smaller, rural and generally some of the more conservative states, they can weed out the more moderate and liberal candidates. Not since 1984 has the most liberal candidate in either party won the nomination. And that is largely due to the outsized influence that Iowa and New Hampshire have. It's not that the winner of these contests necessarily go on to win the nomination but rather that those who fare poorly are forced to drop out before the rest of the country gets to pass judgment.

 

Palin's Iowa endorsement could hurt her in 2012

If Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she will regret endorsing former four-term Governor Terry Branstad yesterday in the Iowa Republican primary for governor.

First thoughts on how this will play out are after the jump.

There's more...

Republican presidential prospects in Iowa for 2012

The decision won't be final until the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in August, but it appears likely that the Iowa caucuses will remain the first presidential nominating contest in 2012. This week the RNC's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee recommended adopting a rule that would allow only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold primaries or caucuses before March 6, 2012. Click here to read the rule, which would also require all states that hold nominating contests before April 2010 to award their delegates proportionally, rather than through a winner-take-all system that is typical for the Republican Party.

So, Iowa will continue to be a frequent travel stop for Republicans considering a presidential bid. It's been six months since I last discussed the prospects of likely challengers to President Obama in Iowa. New speculation is after the jump.

There's more...

We don't need budget advice from Pawlenty

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was in Iowa this weekend to headline an event organized by Iowans for Tax Relief. The crowd cheered the future presidential candidate after Pawlenty blasted the Obama administration and proposed one bad idea after another.

Pawlenty's "economic bill of rights" includes requiring Congress to balance the budget every year. Freezing or reducing federal spending every time revenue drops is great if you like turning recessions into depressions, but basic economic facts won't stop Pawlenty from pandering to the "Party of Hoover" set. I wonder whether Pawlenty's proposed balanced budget amendment still includes "exceptions for war, natural disasters and other emergencies."

Pawlenty also wants line-item veto powers for the president. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that unconstitutional at the federal level, and it's unlikely Congress would ever approve a constitutional amendment on this matter.

In addition, Pawlenty favors extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Those tax cuts didn't prevent the most severe economic recession since World War II, but they did manage to massively increase our national debt and deficit while delivering most of the benefits to the top few percent of the population.

But wait, there's more to Pawlenty's wish list: "He also called for requiring a supermajority of Congress to raise taxes or the debt ceiling." Unfortunately, that would exacerbate our budget problems. When the Pew Center on the States examined state fiscal problems last year, a common feature of the states deemed "most like California" was a supermajority requirement for tax increases or budget decisions.

Speaking to the Iowans for Tax Relief crowd, Pawlenty bragged about getting Minnesota out of the top 10 states for taxes but glossed over other aspects of his record as governor. Iowa Republicans have hammered Democrats for supposedly "overspending," even though our state leaders have kept our budget balanced without depleting our state's reserve accounts. What would they say if they knew about Pawlenty's record?

During Pawlenty's first year as governor, the state drew down its reserves and relied too heavily on one-time revenue to address its budget problem. As a result, the state lost its Aaa bond rating from Moody's Investors Service; the state has yet to regain its Aaa rating from Moody's.

The 2009 report of the bi-partisan Minnesota Budget Trends Study Commission has recommended that the state build up its budget reserves and cash flow account in response to an increasingly unstable revenue outlook. All members of the Commission, including the five appointed by Governor Pawlenty, endorsed this recommendation.

Pawlenty and state legislators couldn't agree on an approach to balance the Minnesota budget. As a result, last year "Minnesota's [projected] budget gap was the largest in the nation on a per capita basis." Pawlenty can bash President Obama, but his state desperately needed the roughly $2.6 billion it received through the federal stimulus bill to help cover the shortfall. Even with the stimulus money, Minnesota was still billions of dollars short. So, in addition to some spending cuts, Pawlenty proposed "a bond issue that would be paid for by existing and forecast revenues from the tobacco settlement—a one-time fix disliked by some because it aimed to use long-term borrowing to pay for current state operations."

To be clear: Pawlenty wanted the state of Minnesota to borrow money to pay its bills. In contrast, Iowa's state borrowing program (I-JOBS) is funding capital investments in infrastructure. Last summer, Iowans for Tax Relief in effect ran the Republican campaign for a special election in Iowa House district 90. During that campaign, the Republican candidate made false and misleading claims about Iowa's state budget and borrowing. How ironic that the Iowans for Tax Relief crowd gave a standing ovation to a panderer with a much worse record of fiscal management.

Not only did Pawlenty want Minnesota to borrow money to pay its bills, he also decided that underfunding local governments and forcing them to draw down their own reserves was a good way to control spending for the 2010-2011 budget period. Yes, Pawlenty decided in 2009 that cutting aid to local governments by hundreds of millions of dollars was a good way to balance the state budget:

“Many [cities], if not all, have reserve funds, or rainy day funds, and they should use them,” Pawlenty said.

He also talked of the option cities have of raising property taxes to make up for any LGA [local government aid] cuts.

One of the Republican talking points against Iowa Governor Chet Culver is that his midyear budget cuts supposedly forced local governments to raise property taxes. Yet Pawlenty gets a free pass from his Iowa friends. Culver's across-the-board budget cut last October wasn't popular, but it did keep state government from overspending. In contrast, late last year Minnesota's cash flow was so poor that state officials considered short-term borrowing to meet budget obligations.

"It's a bad sign," said former state Finance Commissioner Peggy Ingison, now chief financial officer with Minneapolis public schools. "It signals you didn't have good fiscal discipline."

Minnesota has muddled through without borrowing money to pay bills so far, but prospects for later this year are dicey:

State budget officials updated lawmakers [April 12] on Minnesota's precarious cash-flow situation. They all but ruled out short-term borrowing for the 2010 budget year that ends June 30.

Budget director Jim Schowalter says "deep cash problems" loom for the 2011 fiscal year. Barring law changes, spending cuts and upticks in revenue, he says the state might have to take out short-term loans to meet its obligations.

The Minnesota Budget Bites blog takes a more detailed look at the state's "troublesome" picture for fiscal year 2011. BulliedPulpit posted a good rebuttal of "TPawnomics" at MN Progressive Project. The last thing our country needs is budget advice from Tim Pawlenty.

Iowa Caucuses To Be Held on a Saturday

The Des Moines Register reports that the both the Iowa Democratic Party and Republican Party of Iowa will jointly announce an agreement to hold the 2010 Iowa Caucuses on a Saturday to allow more people to participate.

Here's the parties' release:

Joint Statement from State Chairmen of the Iowa Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Iowa
Strawn and Kiernan announce Saturday, January 23 as date for 2010 precinct caucuses

DES MOINES, IA - Iowa Democratic Party State Chairman, Mike Kiernan, and Republican Party of Iowa State Chairman, Matt Strawn, made the following joint statement concerning the date and time for the 2010 precinct caucuses.

"We are proud to announce the Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party, with the support of our respective State Central Committees, have agreed to hold the 2010 Precinct Caucuses on Saturday, January 23 beginning at 1 p.m.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time either Party has held its precinct caucuses on a Saturday.  Our decision to hold these important organizational meetings on a Saturday was made to encourage greater participation in an off-year caucus and get more Iowans actively involved with the work of our Parties.

"Getting more Iowans involved in their local precinct caucuses is good for Democrats, good for Republicans, and good our political process.  Iowans will be making some critically important decisions in 2010 and the more people actively involved in the process the better for Iowa."

I suspect that this is an experiment with eyes towards reforming the process for 2012.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads