Wednesday, April 02, 2008

2012 GOP Calendar May Protect Iowa

2012 GOP Calendar May Protect Iowa

UPDATE: Rules Committee passes Ohio plan, Iowa GOP press release says "we're happy."

The Republican National Committee’s Rules Committee is meeting this week in Albuquerque, and the agenda includes the 2012 primary calendar. The leading plan on the table protect Iowa's first in the nation role, but as usual, Michigan is out to end that.

Under Republican rules, only the national convention can set the nomination calendar, so the decision on Iowa's fate needs to be made before the Sept. 1-4 convention in Minneapolis. The rules committee must give a proposal to the full RNC, which is expected to endorse whatever the rules committee approves and send it on to the convention.

Presumptive nominee John McCain is thus far staying out of the fight. He campaigned little in Iowa this year, and openly attacked the Iowa caucuses in his 2000 run. But McCain scored critical New Hampshire wins in both of his presidential bids.

Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney of New Hampshire told the Manchester Union Leader that the plan that drew the most attention was presented by Ohio officials, and allows early dates for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The Ohio plan would then have primaries or caucuses in 15 small states before moving to larger states.

"You should have a place where retail politics should mean something," Ohio Republican chair Bob Bennett told the Dallas Morning News. "You're not going to do that in a state like Ohio or Texas, where it becomes a media campaign."

In 2000, GOP officials pushed a Delaware plan to give preference to small states and delay primaries in the bigger ones, but opposition from nominee George W. Bush and strategist Karl Rove spiked that idea. The Delaware plan is on the table again.

A plan from Michigan Republican chairman Saul Anuzis, also backed by Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell, would eliminate the first-in-the-nation role for Iowa and New Hampshire and set up six regions across the country with the voting order set by a lottery. One or two states from each region would vote each primary day.

A plan supported by the nation's secretaries of state would set up rotating regional primaries, with or without early states. New Hampshire's Mahoney also said he expected a general discussion of the pros and cons of a national primary.

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