It was announced well over a year ago that the RNC was tired of the circular firing squad taking place each presidential election cycle where the various states fought each other over the primary schedule. As such, they moved to put new rules in place to establish some order this time around. But that doesn’t mean that the states still won’t be jockeying for position and looking to expand their influence under this new set of marching orders. Georgia’s Secretary of State is cooking up a plan to bring his state to the forefront of the nominee selection process, and a bunch of other southern states may be joining in.
BRIAN KEMP, Georgia’s secretary of state … has a scheme to bring his state into the political spotlight. He wants Georgia to hold a presidential primary on March 1st 2016. Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia are scheming to join in. Even Florida may add its considerable weight to this group.
By holding primaries so early in the nomination process, these states hope to play a bigger role in shaping the race. A “Southern Super Tuesday” would force prospective presidential candidates from both parties to woo the region’s voters, say its backers. A bit more backslapping and handshaking in the area could deliver some welcome business to the odd barbecue restaurant, too.
The Economist had Larry Sabato weigh in on the proposal and he played it down a bit, saying that all of the viable candidates would still be focusing on the four states who are still allowed to go in February, and any of them who don’t do well there might drop out before Southern Super Tuesday anyway. That’s not a totally crazy idea because history has shown us that those who skip the First Four don’t do well. (The classic example of this was Rudy Giuliani’s disastrous big state strategy of 2008.)
But in this case we’re only talking about a few weeks, where Giuliani seemed to think he could wait several months for the really big states to begin stacking up. If you add up not only Georgia, but Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia and Florida (!) you’re talking about a mountain of delegates which no candidate could ignore. In a classic scenario where a Tea Party favorite took Iowa and some establishment or libertarian candidate took New Hampshire, the contenders might being viewing South Carolina and Nevada as small potatoes compared to that pile of southern delegates coming only a week or so later. It could easily see some of them bailing out of those two states to make a hard push on a southern swing.
Of course, the new RNC rules will still have an effect if this comes to pass. As amended last August, in Rule 16 (c)(2) of the RNC laws, any state that goes before March 15th must use proportional assignment of their delegates. So the Southern Super Tuesday states would still attract a lot of attention, but the inability to assign all of their delegates in a single chunk could mitigate the knockout potential of the group and allow some less well funded, outside lane candidates to stay in the running and go deep.
Either way, it seems that there’s nothing stopping them from doing this under the new rules. The only question is – assuming they do – how may other states will pitch a fit and move up to the same week as well?