Saturday, May 23, 2015

Assembly Amendment Would Create Separate Nevada Presidential Primary

Another day, another change in the effort to create a presidential primary for the 2016 cycle in Nevada.

On Thursday, May 21 the Nevada Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections held a working session on SB 421. That is the bill to not only establish a presidential primary, but to move up the June primary elections for other offices to the last Tuesday in February, creating a consolidated primary. Typically, these committee working session yield votes to pass or table the bill under consideration. However, that was not the case with the LegOps work session on the state Senate-passed presidential primary legislation.

Instead, yet another amendment was introduced, adding still one more bend in the wending path toward a potential presidential primary. The proposal now on the table would create a separate presidential primary scheduled for the last Tuesday in February. The primaries for other offices would stay in June.

While this addresses some of the negative feedback SB 421 received in its initial Assembly hearing earlier this week, it does have budgetary implications. The separate presidential primary obviously will cost the state of Nevada. To reduce those costs, the amendment to the Senate bill would not provide for early voting -- eliminating that potential conflict with New Hampshire -- but would allow for absentee and military voting. Those would be the only exceptions. Otherwise, all voting will take place on election day, presumably February 23, 2016 if this bill passes and is signed into law.

Of course, if the LegOps committee signs off on this change and the Assembly passes the bill in its amended form, it will have to return to the Senate. Senate sponsor, James Settlemeyer (R-17th, Minden), has shepherded this bill through committee and the full Senate and has appeared willing to make changes -- any changes -- that would facilitate a change from the caucus/convention system to a primary.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Kansas House Passes Bill Eliminating Presidential Primary

The Kansas state House followed Senate's lead, more narrowly passing the conference committee report for HB 2104. The omnibus elections package that includes a provision to permanently cancel the presidential primary in the Sunflower state cleared the Senate last week.

This ends the standard operating procedure that has prevailed in Kansas over the last two decades: canceling the primary every four years. HB 2104 eliminates the presidential primary altogether and ends the practice of the legislature being required to revisit its postponement. While Kansas has been a caucus state for both parties since 1996, the presidential primary statute has still been on the books.

This legislation would make Kansas a caucus state permanently. The bill now heads to Governor Sam Brownback (R) for his consideration.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

SEC Primary Bill Passes Alabama House

Joining the SEC primary inched closer to reality in Alabaman this morning.

The Alabama state House on Thursday, May 21 by voice vote passed SB 240. The legislation would make only a minor tweak to the Alabama statutes, moving the consolidated primary -- including the presidential primary -- up a week to March 1. Four years ago, the Alabama legislature eliminated its separate February presidential primary and combined that election with the the June primaries for other offices. The 2011 change brought all of those elections together on the second Tuesday in March, a date that coincided with the primary in neighboring Mississippi.

Though Mississippi's bid to join the 2016 SEC primary on the first Tuesday in March failed during its regular legislative session, the Alabama shift to a week earlier on the 2016 primary calendar has now passed both chambers of the state legislature. That has Alabama poised to join Georgia*, Tennessee and Texas in the SEC primary. Tangentially regional/southern states, Oklahoma and Virginia are also scheduled to hold March 1 presidential primaries.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hutchinson's Call for Special Session Includes Arkansas Presidential Primary Move

Under a proclamation from Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) a special session of the Arkansas legislature will convene on Tuesday, May 26.1

For our purposes here at FHQ the most noteworthy item on the governor's agenda for the session is "to move the full Arkansas primary elections from May to March". This is an expected move, but an interesting one. The bill (SB 389) that passed the state Senate during the regular session -- and was subsequently withdrawn after it was bottled up in committee on the House -- proposed to create and fund a separate presidential preferential primary election for the first Tuesday in March. That would have left the other primaries back in May.

That separate presidential primary would cost the state an estimated $1.6 million.

But it should be noted that a bill (SB 765) similar to the one the governor is asking the legislature to consider was also proposed during the regular session by the same legislator who introduced the separate presidential primary legislation, Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-6th, Branch). That bill, when considered beside SB 389, was discarded in committee in the state Senate.

That raises an interesting question: If the Arkansas state House opposes a separate primary, and the state Senate opposes moving a consolidated primary up to March 1, is this special session headed for an impasse? That depends. Did the state Senate committee really oppose the consolidated bill or did it just prefer the separate presidential primary option? If it is the former, then an standoff is likely. However, if it preferred the separate presidential primary option, it may not have opposed the consolidated primary option if it was the only one available.

Either way, that leaves some questions to be answered in a very short three day special session next week.

UPDATE (5/21/15): The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has more details on the presidential primary proposal from Governor Hutchinson. All the primaries would be moved from May to the first Tuesday in March, but the fiscal session of the state legislature would be shifted from February to April as well. That latter move would eliminate the conflict of legislators campaigning in the midst of their work on budgetary/appropriations matters. Hypothetically, campaigning would potentially affect  deliberations on those matters. This is a long-standing norm in Arkansas and other states. It is also something FHQ has discussed before in the context of an Arkansas presidential primary move.

Democrats in the state legislative minority are raising holiday and weather concerns (similar to minority party Democrats in Nevada), but Republicans are countering that the change is being made in time for everyone to adjust (via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette):
[State Senate Democratic Leader Keith] Ingram said that moving all the state's primaries from May to March will create problems, lead to campaigning during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and devastate state and local primary races if an ice storm occurs on primary day.
But [Speaker of the House, Republican Jeremy] Gillam said that "we are doing it early enough that everybody will have plenty of time to adjust the calendars, whether it be just on making a decision to run for office or how to conduct the elections.

1 The text of press release on the call for a special session:
Governor Asa Hutchinson Makes Official Call for Special Legislative Session
Agenda Items Focus on Economic Development and Government Efficiencies

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has made the official call to legislators for a special session of the 90th General Assembly that will convene Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Along with the official call, the Governor has announced all items on the special session agenda below.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: “This limited agenda focuses on job creation and economic development, while highlighting government efficiencies that will ultimately result in savings to all Arkansas taxpayers.”

Agenda items are as follows:
To consider an Amendment 82 “super project” at Highland Industrial Park in Calhoun County.

To consider reorganization of state agencies to provide efficiencies, better services and savings:
 » Merging the Arkansas Department of Rural Services (ADRS) with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC)
 » Merging the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (ASTA) with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) » Merging the Arkansas Building Authority (ABA) with the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA)
 » Merging the Division of Land Survey with the Arkansas Geographic Information Office (AGIO) 

To make a minor fix to DWI law to assure continuation of federal highway funds.

To ensure that state law aligns with potential changes in federal law regarding farm-equipment traffic on a new section of interstate highway.

To correct technical errors made to bills when amendments were engrossed.

To move the full Arkansas primary elections from May to March.

To move the General Assembly’s fiscal session from February to April.

To honor Johnson County Deputy Sheriff Sonny Smith.

To confirm Gubernatorial appointments.


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The SEC Primary, Seriously Y'all

Via Tim Alberta at National Journal:
Because for the first time in the modern history of the Republican Party, the path to its presidential nomination takes an early and potentially decisive detour through the South. 
As the schedule tentatively stands, following the first four nominating contests in February—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada—the campaign speeds up with a March 1 Super Tuesday dominated by Bible Belt primaries. The calendar will not be finalized until October, but Republican officials expect that at as many as six states—Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas—could wind up voting in a bloc. (It has been dubbed the "SEC primary" after the powerhouse football programs in the Southeastern Conference.) Even if Alabama and Mississippi fail to move their primaries up to March 1, they're currently scheduled to vote just one week later, on March 8, along with Oklahoma. Plus, Louisiana is holding its primary March 5, giving the South enormous influence no matter how Super Tuesday shapes up.

First time in modern history that the Republican Party has had a primary calendar with such a swing through the South? I look back sometimes and wonder where the time has gone, but 1988 is still part of the modern period of presidential nominations. In that year, the entire South with few exceptions held primaries and caucuses on March 8, a date closer to the New Hampshire primary in 1988 than the comparatively smaller group of southern states will be next year.

George H.W. Bush swept them all in 1988. Huckabee and others hope for as much in 2016. The Democrats' split decision experience in the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988 might be a better comparison though.

Now let's look at that calendar of southern contests for 2016.
Mississippi's out.
The Alabama House has been sitting on their primary bill since April.
Arkansas failed to move during its regular session, but has hope for passage during a special session.

Oklahoma is currently scheduled for March 1 after a plan to move the primary back to April failed.

North Carolina and Virginia are out there as well. Virginia is set for March 1, and North Carolina may fall anywhere in the February 23-March 8 range.

No, the calendar is not set now, but we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like. Yes, Mike Huckabee did well in the South in 2008, but there are a number of candidates who might do well in the region. That may mean a repeat of 1988.

...the Democrats' version. That would make the South -- and the SEC primary -- less decisive.

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Path to Nevada Presidential Primary May Be Steep in Assembly

The Nevada Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections convened on Tuesday, May 19. On its agenda was the recently-passed bill to move a consolidated primary -- including a new presidential primary -- to the last Tuesday in February.

This is now the sixth time this session that a committee on either side of the Nevada capitol has heard testimony on the issue of trading in caucuses in the Silver state and replacing them with a presidential primary election. However, it is the first time that the switch has been discussed in the Assembly since it became clear that the Republican National Committee is pushing for a primary in the state for 2016. The RNC got a party line passage vote in the Nevada Senate a week ago that sent the matter over to the Assembly side.

That RNC involvement is really the only thing that has changed along with changes to the bills in both chambers the longer this legislative session has progressed. Well, the RNC has brought some more coverage, but the talking points have remained the same in these committee hearings and work sessions. And the people speaking for and against the primary and its timing have basically been the same core of folks through the previous five committee meetings.

The big story at this point is that minds really have not changed. Elections administrators, given the extra practice through repeated committee hearings, have refined their arguments but still balk at the possibility of a February primary (for all offices). Democrats are still against the move, but are satisfied enough with the out the bill gives them (to keep conducting caucuses) that they are not as concerned about upsetting the Democratic National Committee and losing the state's protected status at the beginning of the primary calendar. [There is little the state party can do on that anyway.] And the minor party representatives are still crying foul.

If none of that has changed, then why have proponents of the primary switch not adapted to counter those complaints? Arguing that turnout will be higher in a primary is a potentially great point, but repeatedly only pulling that out of the bag of tricks is not convincing enough to some on the LegOps committee in the Assembly. For instance, proponents could counter elections administrators complaints that it is tough train volunteers for the primary over the holidays or the arguments from some Democrats on the committee against campaigning over the holidays with an example. How did Illinois manage all of this with a consolidated primary on the first Tuesday in February 2008? Maybe that is a bad example. Illinois legislators liked that enough that they reverted to a mid-March primary for 2012.

But there are others. Texas will hold a consolidated primary on March 1, 2016. There may be complaints from elections officials in the Lone Star state, but FHQ has not heard them. They did not like the idea of moving the Texas primary to January, but they did not mind the March 1 date; only a week after the proposed primary date in Nevada. What is Texas doing to confront these same issues? Now, sure, there is a great deal of variation in election administration across states, but this might be something for proponents of the Nevada primary -- or perhaps the RNC -- to look into.

Time is running short. The regular legislative session is slated to end in Nevada on June 1 and there are Republicans on the LegOps committee who are not on board with the change. Tick, tick, tick...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Candidates Don't Always Choose the Delegates

In fact, that scenario may be exception rather than rule in the Republican presidential nomination process.

FHQ says this in response to a section in an otherwise fantastic piece by Jonathan Bernstein on the brokered deadlocked convention chatter that has cropped up over the last week or so. Look, Jon and I are 100% on the same page on the overarching premise he presents: The winnowing mechanism in the party-adapted, post-reform era of presidential nominations is strong.1 It works. Candidates drop out or withdraw from a race when the writing is on the wall. That writing tends to come in the form of a combination of not winning contests/delegates and/or the financial backing of donors drying up.2

But while we tend to almost always agree on the theoretical end, we sometimes part ways on process. Such is my wont, rules nag that FHQ is. Here is what I take issue with:
This has all changed. Delegates don’t represent state parties at all anymore. Instead, they are chosen by the candidates, who have an incentive to recruit the most gung-ho loyalists they can. Or, sometimes, they’ll use the delegate slots as an inducement (or a reward) to persuade important party actors -- the people who hold sway over the nomination process -- to join them.
Candidates having control over who fills delegate slots is a Democratic Party practice. The DNC ushered in the post-reform era and more or less dragged the RNC into it in the process. To comply with the rules of the new nomination system, the states -- increasingly state governments as primaries proliferated -- passed laws to govern the new processes on the state level. Those laws affected not only Democrats but Republicans as well.

That dynamic has had something of a ripple effect throughout the post-reform era. Democrats have tended to be the ones reforming the process -- they were the party out of the White House for the early portion of the period -- and have been much more centralized in their response; mandating proportionality, requiring certain diversity quotas, etc. Part of the centralization on the Democratic side is that the candidates basically have the right to review their delegates. The national party gives them the ability to weed out a Bernie Sanders supporter in a Hillary Clinton allocated delegate slot for example.

By contrast, the Republican Party has tended to be much more decentralized in its approach to the delegate selection/allocation process. The mantra had, up until the last couple of cycles, been let the states figure it out. It, in that instance, means an array of things: caucuses or primary, proportional or winner-take-all allocation formulas, etc. But that principle also applied and still applies to delegate selection, or perhaps more particularly to candidates picking and choosing their delegates. In states where the law requires the filing of delegates or delegate slates, candidates have some control. Think loophole primary states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where delegates are listed on the ballot and directly elected. Ohio is another example. Remember, Rick Santorum did not have a full slate of delegates in a number of Ohio districts that the former Pennsylvania senator actually ended up winning in the primary.

The candidates have more control in those types of states than they and their campaigns have in others. In other states, the delegate selection process is completely different from the delegate allocation process. The latter awards slots to candidates based on the results of a primary or caucus.  But the identity of who fills those slots occurs in the (sometimes, especially in primary states) separate delegate selection process (usually through the election year caucus/convention system). This is how Ron Paul-aligned delegates made it to the convention in Mitt Romney slots in 2012.

And this happened in 2012 in more than just those non-binding caucuses that have been eliminated by the RNC for the 2016 cycle.3 Though it did not ultimately end well for Paul delegates, they were able to overrun the Massachusetts Republican delegate selection process and fill Romney delegate slots temporarily. It was only because Romney campaign surrogates in the Massachusetts Republican Party required an affidavit of those delegates pledging to support Romney -- an action those delegates refused -- that there were Romney delegates from Massachusetts at the national convention in Tampa.

That reality -- that candidates do not have full control over the delegate selection process -- presents something of a problem in this deadlocked convention scenario. Though it should be pointed out how that Massachusetts case ended. Romney sent delegates to the convention. But that was not because Romney and his campaign had chosen the delegates. Rather, it was a function of Romney having surrogates in positions of power within the Massachusetts Republican Party. It is different, but the outcome was the same.

The RNC recognizes this as a problem. The party attempted to close that loophole among the many others that Ron Paul delegates and supporters railed against at the convention in 2012 and continue to rail against even now. The original change to Rule 15(b) -- now Rule 16(a)(2) -- gave candidates the ability to "pre-certify" or approve delegates in order for those delegates to be certified by the RNC for the convention. But that was one of the Ginsberg rules that did not make it out of Tampa.4 Instead, the national party -- the RNC -- now has all the power (a fact that is consistent with Bernstein's point about parties doing what they can to avoid the deadlocked convention scenario or any sticky situation for that matter). Delegates are now bound to candidates based on the earliest, statewide election, and if those delegates, regardless of what preference they hold, fail to reflect the binding in their convention vote, then the vote will be recorded as if they had voted the binding.

But there are some questions about how that works in the scenario where no candidate has a majority of the delegates heading into the convention. That is a matter that FHQ has promised some folks on Twitter that I would address. ...tomorrow.

The bottom line: In the Republican process, the candidates do not necessarily choose the delegates, at least not across the board as is the case on the Democratic side. There is variation across state on the issue of how much control the candidate and their campaigns have over the delegate selection process.

There is one other bit of nuance that FHQ would add to one of the footnotes in Bernstein's piece. I don't want to belabor this. It is a footnote, after all and I have gone on for some time already. Usually when I hit four footnotes of my own, that is a telltale sign that it has been a long post. Yet, let's look at Jon's point about the differences between the two parties on delegate allocation rules:
It’s unlikely Cruz and Paul could win that many delegates (especially that many each) because Republican rules don’t produce many delegates for losing candidates in most states. And because Republicans don't have the proportional representation rules that Democrats insist on, even a close contest between two leading candidates is unlikely to leave them with (almost) equal delegate hauls.
On not producing many delegates for losing candidates.
That depends. It is certainly true in the case of truly winner-take-all states like Florida. The number of winner-take-all states is pretty limited and confined to the area of the calendar after March 14 when it is less likely to matter (i.e.: post-winnowing). However, outside of that handful of truly winner-take-all states there is some variation in terms of how able losing candidates are to win delegates. It depends first on how many candidates are on the ballot and active/viable. But being awarded delegates also depends on the thresholds of the vote that state party bylaws or state laws require a candidate to win. The RNC allows states to set that as high as 20%, but does not require states to have any threshold. Some states do (Alabama and Mississippi), some states don't (Alaska and Hawaii). This tends only to be a minor point. FHQ retrospectively looked at some of these factors in the context of 2012 and the thresholds only really affected things at the margins.

On proportional representation rules.
Well, here's the thing: What the RNC has in place for 2016 in terms of the proportionality requirement (for all states with contests from March 1-14) is now a lot like the DNC proportionality mandate for all states. That is part of the RNC tightening its definition of proportionality. Basically, it requires either a proportional allocation of all delegates based on the statewide result or the proportional allocation of at-large delegates based on the statewide vote and the proportional allocation of congressional district delegates based on the result within the congressional district. The only real differences between parties are that...

1) The DNC requires a 15% threshold for anyone to receive delegates (Rule 13.B) while the RNC only suggests states maintain such thresholds.


2) The DNC does not treat each district the same with respect to how many delegates are apportioned it. While the RNC has three delegates per district, the DNC allows for those numbers to vary based on how loyally Democratic the district has been in past elections. For primaries and caucuses in that two week proportionality window in early March, then, those Republican delegate hauls between candidates may be closer than they otherwise would have been during past cycles.

1 By "party-adapted" FHQ means the post-reform period after the national parties (and the states and candidates for that matter) had been through a round or two in the new system and had learned the ropes. 1980 onward is a good way of thinking about this. Democrats had used the new system twice (1972, 1976) and the Republicans had been through it once (1976).

2 I know, I know: super PACS! FHQ is still not really convinced that super PACs are really going to change any of the established dynamics of the nomination process. It may mean more money floating around out there, but super PAC financial backers are going to be guided by the same sorts of constraints that campaign funders have always faced. That constraint can be summed up in one question: Do I keep giving to a candidate/campaign that is not going to win the nomination? This is kind of the same principle that guides the candidates as well as Bernstein points out.

3 That move offers some evidence that the RNC can behave in a centralized, top-down manner when it perceives a need to do so.

4 Washington, DC national committeeman, Ben Ginsberg, was the Romney campaigns man behind the rules changes in Tampa that tightened the RNC grip on nomination process. a way that drew the ire of some within the party.

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Arkansas Governor Promises SEC Presidential Primary Will Be on Special Session Agenda

Arkansas is a week away from convening a supposed special session of the state legislature, but there has been no official call nor a list of agenda items from Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) yet. That appears to be coming on Wednesday, May 20.

However, the governor has made assurances to the sponsor of the two regular session SEC primary bills that the presidential primary date would be on the agenda for one of the likely two planned special sessions; one to deal with economic development next week and another to deal with Medicare in the future. Though the separate presidential primary bill was the one that moved (before stalling) during the regular session, Hutchinson has hinted that a new version of the bill to move all of the Arkansas primaries, including the presidential primary, from May to the first Tuesday in March may be the preferred option for the special session.

Such a bill would have the effect of lengthening the general election campaigns of state legislators among other officeholders in the Natural state. That has its costs but is different than creating and funding a separate presidential primary election.

For now, there is an answer to the question of whether the primary will make it onto the special session docket. It will, but it is not clear the session in which it will be brought up. Time will tell.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Legislation on Cusp of Introduction Would Shift Pennsylvania Presidential Primary to March 15

Representative Keith Greiner (R-43rd, Lancaster) on Monday, May 18 announced his intention to introduce legislation to shift the Pennsylvania presidential primary from April up to March:
Legislation for an Earlier Presidential Primary Date in Pennsylvania 
In the near future I intend to introduce legislation that will change the date of Pennsylvania’s presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday of April to the third Tuesday of March. 
The lateness of Pennsylvania’s presidential primary diminishes its significance for voters of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Pennsylvania’s presidential primary should have a significant impact on the process of selecting presidential candidates, to reflect our standing as “The Keystone State.”  
Achieving this goal is accomplished simply by changing the date of Pennsylvania’s presidential primary.  
By moving the primary to the third Tuesday in March, there is no loss of delegates for either party and our primaries will remain "winner-take-all" for both parties’ primary elections, as they have been historically been in the Commonwealth.  
I hope you will join me in supporting this important legislation.
Throughout the post-reform era, the Pennsylvania primary has been locked on the fourth Tuesday in April. The one exception is the 2000 cycle when the primaries in the Keystone state and Wisconsin coincided on the first Tuesday in April. Moving into March, then, would be new territory for Pennsylvania.

Without the language of the bill available, there are a great many questions left unanswered here. The largest of them is whether the bill calls for moving the entire consolidated set of primaries including the presidential primary up to March or if a separate presidential primary will be created and scheduled for March 15. That the primaries have all remained concurrent has been one of the major deterrents to Pennsylvania moving in the part (as it has been for a number of states that tend to be toward the end of the calendar). A separate presidential primary in a large state like Pennsylvania would be costly, but so too would increasing the length of the general election for all others seeking other offices under the alternative move.

This move would potentially pull Pennsylvania away from an small mid-Atlantic regional primary with Maryland and Delaware and align them with Florida, Illinois, Missouri and possibly Ohio on March 15. That is a significant line up of states.

However, it should be noted that Republicans are differently motivated this cycle than Democrats are. That is true in the commonwealth as well. Pennsylvania Republicans may value that earlier primary date, but Democrats in the state may value the coalition with Maryland and Delaware in April more. It means bonus delegates for clustering and for holding a later primary. That calculation could play a role in this as Governor Tom Wolf (D) may disagree with a Republican controlled legislature if it passes this upcoming bill.

FHQ will hold further comment until the bill is available.

However, there are some factual inaccuracies in Rep. Greiner's memorandum above and other talking points circulated to the press.

First, Pennsylvania would not retain any winner-take-all allocation. The DNC mandates proportionality in every state. Both parties, following state law, have directly elected delegates in presidential primary elections in the past. Those delegate candidates are listed on the ballot with no indication of the presidential candidate with whom they are aligned and in a section of the ballot separate from the presidential preference vote. That presidential preference vote is largely meaningless. It has no bearing on the allocation of delegates. That is determined by the direct election of the delegates. That makes Pennsylvania a loophole primary. If this bill is passed and signed into law, Pennsylvania would end up on the same date as another loophole primary in Illinois.

Second, FHQ would argue that Rep. Greiner underestimated just how many states are or will be ahead of Pennsylvania on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. Bear in mind that most of the caucus states will likely fall some time in March in order to complete the full caucuses/convention process in time for the national conventions. The better way to assess where Pennsylvania is in the order is to count the number of states behind them, the vast majority of whom are locked into their current calendar positions. By that measure, Pennsylvania is somewhere in the upper 30s in the order. And Washington, DC is behind them, all the way at the end.

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FHQ at 8 and the Future

Back in late March, around the time Ted Cruz was announcing his presidential intentions and the Affordable Care Act was celebrating a birthday of its own, FHQ hit the eighth anniversary of its humble start. At the time I did not really want to compete with those events and then the end of the semester push intervened. Yet, for a site that revolves around and thrives on the rhythms of a presidential election cycle, an eighth birthday is not without some symbolism. That is two presidential terms of office, and that brings FHQ into a third cycle of digging into the minutiae of the presidential nomination process (among other things).

I wanted to take a moment to say a very sincere thank you to everyone: all who have read over the last eight years, those who have offered constructive criticism about the site and made it and me better, and the folks who have from time to time dropped a note of encouragement. Every bit of it has been greatly appreciated.

I don't know that I set out to create this FHQ. At its origin, the site was nothing more than a self-interested effort to gather some (probably too late) anecdotes from around the 2007 formation of the 2008 presidential primary calendar. I wanted those events to highlight various aspects of my dissertation research and figured why not share. What followed was a closely contested Democratic nomination race in which the rules like those behind the primary calendar seemed to matter. That provided enough fodder to allow FHQ to start growing.

And it did in fits and starts thereafter. If 2008 was a debut album with pretty limited success, then 2009 was a lame follow up with a bunch of filler. Seriously, go look at some of that stuff. I was still trying to find my voice as a blogger and figure out what I wanted FHQ to be. That did not come until 2011 when, thanks to the RNC and their delegate selection rules -- or penalties with minimal teeth really -- put the primary calendar and delegate allocation firmly in the 2012 spotlight. FHQ was in the right place at the right time.

There were many others, but stories from Molly Ball and Jeff Zeleny in particular really put FHQ on the map in late 2010 and into 2011. Persistent support from bloggers in the political science community like John Sides at the Monkey Cage and John Bernstein at various places before he arrived at Bloomberg View also helped to spread the word on FHQ and legitimize what I was doing here. Without those folks, far fewer people would know me as obsessive, exhaustive or an American hero (all of which the self-deprecating part of me want to dispute) in talking about mainly presidential nomination rules and their impact. Without them and others FHQ does not end up on Fresh Air or the PBS Newshour to share with a wider audience what I greatly enjoy talking about and teaching. I am grateful for those people and the opportunities I've had because of them. Thank you all.

At the end of the day, though, it all comes back to that desire mentioned above: to share with whomever cares to read or listen what I know and what I have learned about the rules of the presidential primary process and their effect in shaping the outcome of any race for a presidential nomination. Being able to share what I know about the process has always been the goal around here even if as that developed slowly and somewhat organically over the last eight years.

 Thank you all for reading.

I would be remiss if I did not also touch on the future for FHQ. The plan is not to change all that much, but external circumstances may force a change in the standard operating procedure around here. For the last five years I have been chasing something that may not exist. Following a long and messy divorce in 2009-11, I was basically left to choose between 1) being near my kids and 2) the possibility of an academic job that I had worked hard for (throughout graduate school) but may take me far away from my kids. For five years I have been able to find a certain sweet spot: temporary jobs at North Carolina institutions that have kept me close enough to my kids.

All the while, the intention has always been to find something long term -- tenure-track -- here in North Carolina. That has proven elusive. The academic job market is tough like a great many sectors of the economy these days, but tougher when you make the choice -- no matter how noble -- to constrain yourself geographically to a particular area in order to be a part of your kids' lives. Overall, though, I am dependent on there actually being jobs, both long-term and temporary. And sometimes there are not any of either.

That is the case for me now as my contract at Appalachian State runs out. This year brings an uncertainty that breaks with the status quo of the past few years and has me contemplating shuttering FHQ to pursue other opportunities. The sentiment would have been unthinkable to me not that long ago and is tough to type now. But I owe it to FHQ readers, both loyal and casual, to be candid about my situation and this site. Matters are different enough for me in 2015 that I have to be open to doing things in [a] way(s) that I did not think I would.

My plan is not to shut FHQ down at the moment (or any time in the future to be perfectly honest). Right now, I've got work on a book project ahead of me; a book that I would prefer to get out and share with people some time in 2016. But I am now more open to other possibilities; campaigns, media, think tanks, etc. than I have ever been. I have to be. If you are in any of those categories or others and would like to talk to me about how my expertise fits into what you are doing in preparation for the 2016 elections drop me a line by clicking on the "Contact" link in the upper right sidebar.

Thanks for reading, y'all.

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