On the gridiron, it takes a team to win, and some elected officials around the South are looking to band together rather than brawl over the 2016 presidential primaries. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is among those pushing a regional March 1, 2016 contest known as the “SEC Primary,” named after the Southeastern Conference and would include states like Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi and possibly Alabama and Louisiana. “As someone who went to the University of Georgia and lives in Athens and understands how powerful the Southeastern Conference is in football today, that is exactly what we want to be when it comes to presidential politics,” Kemp said. Although the state primaries would be held for each party, much of the focus would be on the large group of Republican presidential contenders expected to vie for the nomination.
With the South being a strong voting bloc for Republicans, officials say an early primary date would give them an important say in whom the GOP nominee should be and would comply with rules put forward by the Republican National Committee that allows states willing to carve up its delegates proportionally to hold their nominating contests on March 1. Those states that prefer winner-take-all must still wait until March 15.
The RNC also sharpened the penalties for states jumping ahead of the early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — as Florida did in 2012, which pushed the schedule into early January. A state would now lose a significant number of its delegates, a deterrent particularly for large states.