UNION LEADER: FIRST-IN-THE-NATION PRIMARY PLAN GETS VITAL BOOST FROM RNC PANEL
Chairman MacDonald Thanks Phyllis Woods & Steve Duprey for Their Tireless Efforts
Concord, NH – New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Wayne MacDonald today congratulated National Committeewoman Phyllis Woods and National Committeeman Steve Duprey for their successful efforts to preserve New Hampshire’s GOP national convention delegates in 2016 and beyond. At the Republican National Committee (RNC) meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, a panel backed a New Hampshire plan that would allow the Granite State to keep its delegates even if it is forced to move its primary date to preserve its historic status. Included below is comment from Chairman MacDonald and a news report on the RNC’s vote by the New Hampshire Union Leader, which called the move, “A win for the NHGOP.”
“Preserving our First-in-the-Nation primary is our top priority, and this successful effort will help our state maintain this historic position while also preserving our delegates to the national convention. I’d like to thank Phyllis and Steve for their hard work and perseverance in keeping our state’s primary first and for this initiative to make sure we have as strong a voice as possible to the RNC.” – Chairman Wayne MacDonald
NHGOP First-in-the-Nation Primary Plan Gets Vital Boost from Powerful RNC Panel
By John DiStaso
New Hampshire Union Leader
April 19, 2012
A WIN FOR THE NHGOP. A key Republican National Committee panel Thursday backed NHGOP committeewoman Phyllis Woods' proposal to no longer punish New Hampshire delegations to future national conventions if other states force the first-in-the-nation primary to be held as early as January in 2016 and beyond.
An amendment to the party rules sponsored by the outgoing Republican National Committeewoman from Dover was approved by a voice vote of the RNC's rules committee meeting this afternoon in Scottsdale, Ariz. While the vote was not a final passage, it did provide vital momentum as the plan now moves forward through the RNC process.
Woods said going into the meeting she though it had only a “50-50” chance of passing. She said afterward she was surprised at the ease at which the proposal was passed.
Woods said the vote “reinforces the intent of the RNC's existing rule that the early states be recognized as vital to the nominating process and should not be penalized if they are forced to move up.”
Her plan now goes to the full RNC at its pre-Republican National Convention meeting in Tampa this summer. If passed there, it will have even more momentum as it's considered by the convention rules committee and, finally, the full national convention.
A significant faction of the RNC has long resented the early primary status of not only New Hampshire, but also Iowa, South Carolina and, more recently, Nevada.
But that sentiment wasn't evident Thursday, much to the surprise of the state RNC members at the meeting, who expected a tough battle.
“It's a great day,” said Woods' fellow state RNC member, Steve Duprey.
“It's a tribute to Phyllis' leadership on this issue,” added state GOP chairman Wayne MacDonald.
Duprey said, “We were cautiously optimistic going in because Phyllis, Wayne and I have been talking it up for some time, but I was surprised by how little opposition there was.”
He said only one member of the rules committee stood up to voice concern and others who were expected to be in opposition remained silent.
Duprey said a few other key players stated that the early state status for New Hampshire and the others “is part of (the party's) history and has shown that it works well.”
Woods is trying to amend the RNC rule because she felt it was unfair that Republicans in New Hampshire and the other early states should be penalized by the RNC and lose half their convention delegates because other so-called “rogue” states, by moving up their primaries or caucuses, force these early states to then move up their contests to January of the presidential election year.
The current RNC rules allows New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada to hold their contests a month ahead of all other states, but no earlier than Feb. 1.
This year, the Florida GOP decided to ignore the RNC and hold its primary on Jan. 31, in violation of the RNC's mandate that it be held no earlier than March 1. The Florida move prompted South Carolina Republicans to hold their first-in-the-South primary on Jan. 21.
In turn, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, following a state law that requires the Granite State to hold its primary seven days ahead of any “similar election,” set New Hampshire's primary for Jan. 10.
As a result, the RNC is sanctioning New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida by allowing them to bring only 50 percent of their delegates to the Republican National Convention. Iowa, which held a caucus on Jan. 3, is allowed to bring a full delegation because its delegates were officially selected after Feb. 1. Nevada was not sanctioned because it held its caucus after Feb. 1.
For New Hampshire, it means only 12, instead of 23, delegates, will be allowed to participate in the Tampa convention.
Woods' proposed rule change would remove the Feb. 1 restriction for early state contests but still require them to hold their primaries or caucus no earlier than one month before “the next earliest state.” It also keeps in place the existing requirement that the early primaries and caucuses must be held “in the year in which a national convention is held.” That means state Republicans would still be punished if the primary is, in the future, held in December or earlier of the previous year.
Woods' plan won't undo the punishment levied by the RNC this year, but it would apply to 2016, and, once in the rule book, the likelihood is vastly increased that it would continue to be renewed in future cycles.
Duprey said the larger issue is that it finally appears the powerful RNC rules committee is accepting New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation status. He said that in prior years, New Hampshire representatives on the RNC had to fight hard for the early-state “carve out.”
“I still think the people who oppose any special status for the early states may try to come after us, but they could have done it today, and they didn't,” he said.
“We're going to have to monitor the committee to see if any opposition develops going forward,” Duprey said. “But in the 20 years I've been doing this, this is the first time that people accepted that New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa and Nevada are carved out and should stay there, and it works.”
While state Republicans have had to fight for early-state status at the RNC, it's been a different story in recent years for state Democrats. For the last two cycles, they received waivers from the Democratic National Committee and once again this year will be bringing a full delegation to their convention in Charlotte.
“I'm sensing more comfort or acceptance of our first-in-the-nation status,” said NHGOP chair MacDonald. He said he believes the RNC, or at least key players in the RNC, are beginning to understand that “there is a case to be made for relatively small states vetting the candidates early in the process.”
He said he and other key Granite State Republicans “will continue to pursue” getting a waiver from the existing rule this year so that a full delegation can be seated. “But to be honest, at this point I don't see that happening,” MacDonald said.