I’m still very much undecided on the Republican Presidential Primary. But something is really bugging me about the push in some states to move up their primaries and caucuses, apparently under pressure from the Romney campaign. As Jay Tea has discussed, New Hampshire has the first primary in the nation by law. Other states can hold their primary later, but if they try to go first, Secretary of State Gardner will just turn around and move their primary sooner.
I can see a self-interest angle to a state wanting to move up their primary, as Florida is doing, or their caucus, as Nevada is doing. You have more influence on the race, and can extract more concessions from the candidates if your choice is earlier in the process. By the time my state gets its caucus on March 3 (21 days earlier than in 2008), we expect that one candidate will have sewn up the race and we will have no influence on the choice.
But some have found a more nefarious motive for the moves, especially by Florida and Nevada. Here’s Politico:
Mitt Romney’s campaign declined to confirm or deny a report that the GOP presidential candidate lobbied Nevada Republicans to hold a rule-breaking January presidential caucus.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday that Romney’s camp had urged the state GOP to schedule its 2012 nominating contest earlier than Republican National Committee rules allow.
A spokeswoman for Romney’s campaign wouldn’t address the claims in the story, which quoted former Nevada Gov. and RNC member Bob List as its source.
Governor Huntsman, who I can’t remember why is on T.V., is leading the charge against the activities in Florida. He was on the Fox morning show this morning claiming that the Romney camp is manipulating the calendar to lock themselves into the nomination. The theory is that since Romney has the most money on hand today, he can win New Hampshire, then Nevada, then Florida, and then it’s over. Robert Stacy McCain looked into the work that Marco Rubio did in Florida to accelerate the process.
When Florida defied Republican National Committee rules to move the state’s 2012 presidential primary from an RNC-approved March date to Jan. 31, conservatives immediately suspected that state party insiders had orchestrated the move to help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney thwart the momentum of Tea Party-backed candidate Herman Cain. Some Florida activists focused their suspicion on moderates in state party leadership – allies of Senate candidate George LeMieux and of former Gov. Charlie Crist — as orchestrating the change in the primary date. The move was seen as helping the centrist Romney, whose superior fund-raising resources would enable him to score an early knockout in the Sunshine State before Cain could fully leverage the boost he got from an upset victory in a Sept. 24 Florida GOP straw poll.
Stacy later discussed an alternative theory, that the Perry camp was doing this as a stunt to implicate Romney. We are all left to ponder the inner workings of the state Republican parties and their donors. It smells very funny to me. I, for one, am shocked that there is politics going on inside a political party.