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.


2012 GOP Dark Horses

In a piece by David Renmick in the New Yorker there's an interesting quote by David Plouffe, the Obama Campaign manager, about perhaps a dark horse candidate emerging to  win the GOP Presidential nomination. Mr. Plouffe suggests that "we ought to learn from the Obama experience that someone can come out, not someone you've never heard of but someone who you just didn't think would run for President."

Clearly, the front-runners are the runners up from 2008 - Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee - and the all but announced Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. But who might emerge à la Obama on the GOP side for 2012?

Here are some thoughts in no particular order:

Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana. He represents the Sixth Congressional District. Current  House GOP Conference Chair. Bills himself as "Christian, Conservative, Republican, in that order." Negatives for the GOP base: Seen as lenient on immigration.

Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico.  Johnson, who was governor from 1995 to 2003, is releasing a book entitled Seven Principles Of Good Government that will be published by The Heartland Institute, a conservative-libertarian think tank. He's also launching a political action committee called Our America PAC to promote his libertarian, small-government ideas. He's was popular and he connects with the under 30 crowd. Negatives for the GOP base: He's a Ron Paul libertarian. Thinks the war of drugs is a failure. He's pro-choice.

Senator John Thune from South Dakota. Best known for being the man who ousted Tom Daschle. David Brooks recently described him as a "down-the-line conservative on social, economic and foreign policy matters" and "conservative at the roots but pragmatic at the surface." Negative for the GOP base: Endorsed by David Brooks.

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana.  A populist conservative who worked in the Bush OMB before returning to run for governor. Re-elected in 2008 by a large margin even as Obama carried the Hoosier state. Daniels won the under 24 vote by a whopping 38 points. Negatives for the GOP Base: Ties to the Bush White House and their budgets.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Running for re-election but first has to get past a primary challenge from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Has tacked right and embraced the Tea Party set. One of the most critical voices of President Obama in the GOP today and on the front lines of the sovereignty movement. Negatives for the GOP Base: Seen as an opportunist with no real convictions.

Any others?

There's more...

New Mexico's Gary Johnson Raising His 2012 Profile

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian-minded former two-term Governor of New Mexico, is raising his profile as he looks at a possible 2012 run for the GOP presidential nomination. In October, Governor Johnson, who remains popular in the Land of Enchantment but largely unknown outside it, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that he will be launching a political action committee called Our America PAC to promote his libertarian, small-government ideas. He would neither confirm nor deny, however, that he is entertaining a presidential run.

Next month however,  Governor Johnson, who was governor from 1995 to 2003, will also be releasing a book entitled Seven Principles Of Good Government that will be published by The Heartland Institute, a conservative-libertarian think tank. And he intends a speaking tour associated with the release of the book.

Governor Johnson is one of the few public officials who has called the war on drugs a "bust." Meanwhile, there is also a grassroots campaign to draft the former Governor called Johnson for America.

There's more...

Santorum "Thinking About It"

It, in this case, is running for President in 2012. In the question & answer session after addressing 12th annual Catholic Leadership Conference in Orlando, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum confessed that he is indeed mulling a presidential run. From Life Site News:

Speaking to a room full of prominent US Catholic leaders Friday night, Senator Rick Santorum was challenged to run for the Republican Presidential nominaion. Responding to a room already thick with applause, Santorum revealed that he was indeed "thinking about it" but asked for prayers and detailed his thinking on the matter.

He said: "Six months ago I would not have spent ten seconds on your question, but it's not six months ago. I see that, I hate to be calculating, but I see that 2012 is not just throwing somebody out to be eaten, but it's a real opportunity for success."

In closing he said that while he was "thinking about it", it is the first time his ambition which is, as he said, "in his DNA" was checked by a resistance saying, "no, I'm not sure."

Rick Santorum will need more than prayers. He'll need the country to forget that he has, in fact, made of multitude of idiotic statements.

A stroll down memory lane brings these gems:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

"I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts."

"Marriage is not about affirming somebody's love for somebody else. It's about uniting together to be open to children, to further civilization in our society."

"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality."

If Santorum is asking for prayers then I hope that there is a novena for our collective amnesia for there is no way in hell that Rick Santorum is a viable candidate otherwise.

There's more...

Rick Santorum Tests the Waters

Former Pennsylvania Senator and darling of the pro-life movement Rick Santorum is headed to Iowa in early October as he mulls a Presidential run. The story from Politico:

The Pennsylvanian, who lost his 2006 re-election bid, will visit Iowa on October 1st, appearing on a Des Moines radio talk show and speaking to a luncheon and workshop of Iowa's Right to Life group before heading east to Dubuque, where he'll headline a fundraiser for the conservative America's Future Fund PAC and then speak about the future of the GOP to a public audience in the Mississippi River city.

"Your voice becomes more amplified when you go to a place like Iowa or New Hampshire," Santorum explained in an interview Tuesday about the visit.

Like other potential White House aspirants, he insisted it was too early to consider a presidential run. But he acknowledged that he was interested in taking a higher profile in the party.

"I'm very concerned about the state of affairs in this country and how Republicans are dealing with [issues], so this is an opportunity for me to go out and talk about things I think we need to be doing to turn this country in the right direction," Santorum said of the Iowa trek--a visit invariably seen as presidential water-testing for any ambitious politician.

The only thing amplified about Santorum is his out-sized ego. He's another of these Republicans who preach limited government except when it comes to your own private life. There government intrusion is warranted. It would be hard to pick my favorite idiotic statement from Santorum for when it comes to foot-in-mouth Rick Santorum is an embarrassment of riches.

There's more...


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