Republicans Leaving Caucuses Alone -- For Now
The Republican National Convention's rules committee voted Wednesday to approve a 2012 nomination calendar that could help keep Iowa first. The proposed calendar goes to the full convention on Monday.
The Republican Party of Iowa is calling it "a vote to keep Iowa first," though Iowa is not specifically addressed. States that hold nonbinding presidential caucuses or primaries could go early without penalties, and in Iowa the presidential straw poll taken on caucus night is not directly connected to delegate selection.
Still, Iowa Republican chair Stewart Iverson declared victory. "There are still hurdles to be cleared, but at this point Iowa’s Republican Caucuses will be first in the nation for the 2012 Presidential Election,” he said in a press release.
The Republican plan would give primary states New Hampshire and South Carolina an early window in February. Those are the same states the Democrats scheduled early this year, along with caucus states Nevada and Iowa. Other states could not go before the first Tuesday in March. States which violate the calendar will lose half their delegates, as Michigan and Florida did this year.
The plan had the support of the John McCain campaign. A rotating regional primary plan proposed by Ohio failed.
"It's an endorsement, I think, of the value of retail, grassroots, face-to-face campaigning, for which New Hampshire is so well known," Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney of New Hampshire told the Manchester Union-Leader.
Under Republican rules, the national convention must OK the calendar. Democrats have set up a calendar commission. The Democrats are also seeking to push the beginning of the nomination process into February, but have not guaranteed Iowa an early role.