This morning when we checked in with Bob Vander Plaats, he was fantasizing about challenging Tom Harkin in 2014. From that same presser, BVP talks about something he actually may have a clue about: “For anybody reading the national polls, especially the polls in the South, if you’re saying Huckabee’s not going to run, I think you’re nuts. I think he’s going to give it strong consideration.”
If so, we may need to be seeing Huck again sooner than we want to, as an unlikelt state starts plating Caucus Date Leapfrog:
Legislative inaction to move back Utah’s presidential primary date is just the latest threat to a calendar already in turmoil.Utah would be weird as an early state with two de facto home state candidates, Huntsman and Romney. But to Iowans, any one president or nominee is less important than Being First.
State law establishes a primary date of Feb. 7 — one day after first-in-the-nation Iowa — and lawmakers are set to adjourn their session today without making a change. That date is in violation of rules set by both national parties stipulating that no states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada can hold nominating contests before March. With Florida also threatening to hold a primary even earlier, chances are increasing that the Hawkeye State will have to push up its own timetable just to keep its first-in-line status.
So here's where we stand now:
Iowa is Officially on 2/6 with New Hampshire on Valentine's Day, and South Carolina and Nevada in the next two weeks. Other states are supposed to start March 6.
But Michigan is looking at 2/28; there's an excuse about combining with local elections bu there's a Screw Iowa element to it as well. This is mostly GOP driven but the Michigan Democrats are fine with it.
Florida is the big problem; they want 1/31. This is entirely Republican-driven.
The absolute WORST thing Iowa Democrats can do is stick to the schedule and pick a night other than what the Republicans pick. All it'll take is one jerk bragging about going to both party's caucuses and we'll be casting meaningless votes in a June primary.
I'll admit to the chip on my shoulder about 2008, when Michigan and Florida got seated by the Democratic convention in direct violation of the rules. But donning the beret of objectivity: these two mega-states with multiple media markets are terrible places to start the process. You'll have tarmac rallies instead of house parties.
So if Florida sticks with it, that could push South Carolina to 1/24 and Nevada (likely to caucus rather than primary) to the weekend of 1/28. That makes New Hampshire 1/17 and we Iowans are all the way back to January 9. That leaves only one week of wiggle room, with a worst case scenario of Monday, January 2.
As Politico's Ben Smith says: "Christmas in Iowa, here we come."