Arizona Republicans aren’t just in the driver’s seat on on GOP policies like immigration — they are now seeking to leapfrog the 2012 primary calendar and vote in February next year, too.
As Real Clear Politics reports, the 80-member state GOP executive committee has passed a resolution that would ask that Republican Gov. Jan Brewer — who has the power to set the state’s presidential primary date — schedule the event for February. The resolution will next be voted on tomorrow by the whole state party committee, made up of 1,400 members.
“We should go early because we’re a good bellwether of the country,” Mecum said. “We’re willing to break the rules to go early.”
A wrinkle in this plan, of course, is that the RNC’s official new primary calendar — which was adopted in part to push the race back from its very early events last cycle — allows only four contests in February 2012: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. And if another state goes earlier, it could potentially trigger a race among the official early states to reschedule their contests for even sooner.
A state that violates the rules would lose some of its delegates to the Republican National Convention — but as Real Clear Politics reports, Mecum’s thinking is that the rules wouldn’t really matter:
Mecum explained that the penalties, which range from losing delegates at the nominating convention over the summer to awarding votes proportionally, likely will not matter. Delegates likely would be restored by the time the convention took place, but an early win for a candidate could help provide momentum and decide the nominee, so the state party believes there are greater benefits to breaking the rules and getting more attention in the process.
I asked state GOP communications director Matt Roberts whether the state’s Republican elected officials would follow through on such a resolution. “Quite possibly,” said Roberts. “I know that they are aware of it but i’m not sure that they’ve necessarily thought one way or the other. Obviously this is emanating from us, and then they’ll have the opportunity to respond to it.”
How does he expect Brewer would act, I asked? “I wouldn’t want to speculate as to what people may or may not do when it comes to this,” said Roberts. “Not at this point, especially before we know whether it would pass or not.”
I asked Brewer’s office what the governor’s position would be. “The Governor has not yet commented on the subject,” spokesperson Tasya Peterson replied in an email.
The party sent us the text of the resolution:
RESOLUTION CALLING FOR A FEBRUARY PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY
WHEREAS, among the western United States, Arizona’s population best represents the national population of American voters, and
WHEREAS, Arizona’s large and diverse population deserves to play a meaningful role in the selection of the Republican Party’s nominee in 2012, and
WHEREAS, Arizona’s Republican voters have a distinguished history of representing the best of Republican values;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the State Committee of the Arizona Republican Party calls upon Governor Janice K. Brewer to use the authority vested in her, pursuant to ARS §16-241(B), to plain that Arizona’s next Presidential preference election shall occur on the first Tuesday in February of 2012.