If the first in a series of forums on Colorado’s caucus and primary system is any indication, voters love caucuses, despite the headaches, and strongly oppose moving back to a presidential primary system. Still in question is whether such forums – organized without legislative authorization by Senate Republicans – can be trusted to reflect the views of the general public. On Saturday, a group of mostly Republican state senators listened as voters, voter groups, and Libertarian and Republican party officials gave their assessment of the primary-overhaul proposals that died in the 2016 legislative session and shared their thoughts on what to do in future election years. The forum was noteworthy for the absence of Democrats. A spokesman for Colorado’s Democratic Party said Chairman Rick Palacio wasn’t invited to the forum until the last minute and declined to participate in what on Twitter he called a “work of fiction.”Full Article: Election study group hears mostly “no” on presidential primary | The Colorado Independent.
Colorado: Parties considering change to presidential primary after 2016 caucus uproar | The Denver Post
Hundreds of Democrats were left in the cold. Thousands of Republicans didn’t get to vote. And 1 million unaffiliated voters sat on the sidelines. Colorado’s caucus upset people of all political persuasions and produced a rare moment of partisan unity: “Caucusing in Colorado is awful,” said Ellen Lawson, a Longmont Democrat, echoing a message from many Republicans. Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters during a rally at the Javits Center following Super Tuesday on March 2, 2016 in New York City. The former secretary of state won seven states on Tuesday, giving her a lead in the democratic primary. (Andrew Renneisen, Getty) The momentum from Tuesday’s caucus is not boosting any particular candidate: The Democratic rivals split the delegates and Republicanscanceled their straw poll. Instead, it’s renewing interest in abandoning the presidential caucus and returning to a primary vote.Full Article: Colorado considering change to presidential primary after 2016 caucus uproar - The Denver Post.
The state is rushing to get nearly 1 million postcards in the mail this week to remind Utah voters that political parties are holding presidential preference caucuses this year instead of a primary election. “We are getting a lot of questions,” state Elections Director Mark Thomas said Monday, from voters who don’t realize lawmakers decided last year not to fund a statewide primary election after the Utah GOP announced it was holding a caucus. Republican leaders, who are in a court battle over changes to the state’s caucus and convention system for choosing nominees, have spent more than $80,000 to set up what’s being billed as the nation’s largest-ever online election.Full Article: State spending $150,000 to promote switch from presidential primary to caucus | Deseret News.
For those who hoped New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary would serve as a snapshot of the 2016 election cycle, Tuesday could prove a more literal reward than expected. The Granite State has a new voter ID law this year, and while those who arrive at the polls without the required forms of identification will still be allowed to cast a ballot, they must first sign an affidavit and also let a poll worker take their picture. Ballot-access advocates worry the process could lead to voter intimidation, as well as depress turnout due to longer lines at polling places. According to a Los Angeles Times column by Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” wait times “increased by 50 percent when the [New Hampshire] voter ID law was partially implemented, without the camera requirement, during the 2012 election.”Full Article: New Hampshire Voters Try to Get Into the Picture | Al Jazeera America.
The Utah Republican Party is asking the Lieutenant Governor’s office to help hurry a dispute over how candidates are nominated to a court so a judge can rule on the matter because, as the party chairman put it, the top elections office is no longer an “honest broker” on the issue. State GOP Chairman James Evans cited comments by Mark Thomas, the state elections director, in which he characterized as “crazy stuff” Evans’ contention that the party can decide whether to let candidates gather signatures to get on the primary ballot. “We have decided it is in the best interests of the party to not seek the [lieutenant governor’s] interpretation of the law,” Evans said. “Instead, we want to proceed to court for a determination since we have lost confidence that we would get a fair hearing and that the LG’s office would be an honest broker.”Full Article: GOP wants Utah to let judge settle election dispute | The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah: Election dispute likely headed back to court, unless lawmakers intervene | The Salt Lake Tribune
A clash between the head of Utah’s Republican Party and Republican elections officials over who can seek the party’s nomination for office appears likely to end up back in court if the Legislature doesn’t settle the matter in a special session first. Utah GOP Chairman James Evans contends that party officials have figured out a way to only allow its candidates to be nominated through party conventions — essentially gutting sweeping elections reforms the Legislature enacted in 2014 that allowed candidates to skip conventions and gather signatures on petitions if they want to seek office. But Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and the top elections officials in his office disagree. They argue that Evans and the GOP agreed in an August letter to the state to comply with SB54, and that includes allowing candidates to seek the party’s nomination through the signature-gathering route.
Rand Paul is giving new meaning to the term “buying an election.” Over the weekend, the Kentucky senator said he gave $250,000 to his state’s Republican Party for the explicit purpose of funding its presidential caucus in March. He promised to pony up another $200,000 in the fall, enough to cover the entire cost of the nominating event. Put another way: Paul is paying the party to hold an election in which he is running. He’s doing it neither to ensure a victory nor out of the simple goodness of his heart. No, Paul is making a rather blatant end-run around state law, and he’s compensating the Kentucky GOP for going along with him. The law forbids someone from appearing on the same ballot as a candidate for two different offices, and Paul, who is up for reelection next year, doesn’t want to give up his Senate seat to make his rather long-shot bid for the presidency.Full Article: Rand Paul Will Pay for Kentucky's GOP Election Himself - The Atlantic.
The state Democratic Party said it must abandon its traditional – but sometimes complex and confusing – primary process called the Texas Two-Step. The national party rejected the Texas plan last Friday, leaving state party leadership to revise the process in favor of a straightforward vote. The Texas primary next year falls on March 1 and is part of the Super Tuesday balloting, in which Texas will have the largest treasure trove of delegates among the 12 states voting.Full Article: Texas Democrats ditching the “Texas 2-step;” no more primary caucus | | Dallas Morning News.
Virginia Republicans will hold a presidential primary next year, state party leaders decided Saturday, settling a long-contentious matter for now. The path was chosen on a secret ballot 42-39 vote of the party’s State Central Committee, with one abstention. Party members have clashed over the matter for years, with some favoring primaries to grow the party and others calling for conventions to nominate more conservative candidates. Saturday’s debate was hot, with one committee member saying she’d heard of people threatening to ruin people’s businesses if they didn’t vote the right way. There was a battle of parliamentary procedure and confusion over process in the early going.Full Article: Va. GOP goes with primary in 2016 - Daily Press.
Addressing hundreds of supporters while campaigning in Keene, N.H., last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declared: “Let me tell you a secret: We’re going to win New Hampshire!” He has some reason to feel confident, given that a new poll put him just 10 percentage points behind front-runner Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary in the Granite State. But before he pops the champagne corks, I have a secret of my own to share with the senator: He may not qualify for the New Hampshire ballot as a Democrat. To understand why, let’s step back a bit. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to set the time of federal elections but not the manner in which political parties choose their nominees. That process is left to the states. The New Hampshire Constitution empowers the legislature to determine the qualifications for those being elected to office (something in which I was closely involved when I chaired the committee with jurisdiction over state election law while a member of the state Senate). Pursuant to that power, state law makes clear that candidates must be registered members of the party on whose ballot line they wish to appear.Full Article: Bernie Sanders’s primary problem - The Washington Post.
Virginia Republican Party leaders will gather later this month to decide whether to hold a presidential primary next year. Based on the past positions of the party’s State Central Committee, which will make the decision, a nominating convention seems more likely, party insiders said Wednesday. This is an ongoing struggle in the Republican Party of Virginia, but it takes on wider significance going into a presidential election year. The party’s right wing generally prefers conventions, figuring the dedicated folks willing to spend all Saturday in a political meeting will pick more conservative nominees. Others push for primaries, arguing that they help widen the party’s tent and juice the Republican ground game as GOP candidates traipse through the state and campaign volunteers collect voter information well ahead of general elections.Full Article: Virginia GOP ponders: Primary or convention in 2016 presidential race - Daily Press.
Nevada is keeping its caucuses for selecting presidential nominees, disappointing supporters of several Republican presidential contenders who had hoped to shift the early-voting state to a system of primaries. Caucuses are considered favorable to candidates who have a network of highly motivated activists, and in Nevada they are seen as especially favoring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul because of his family’s support in the state Republican party. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval backed legislation to change to a primary, but the bill never came up for a vote before the Legislature adjourned Monday night. It was the subject of frantic horse-trading and lobbying in the state capitol in Carson City until the final minutes of the session. “I would’ve liked to have seen that get through, but it didn’t,” he told The Associated Press. “I think that would’ve attracted candidates to our state. I don’t know if it will be the same if it is a caucus.”Full Article: Nevada stays with caucus system - HeraldCourier.com: News.
National: With big field, unsettled primary calendar adds complexity to GOP race | Los Angeles Times
As the number of candidates seeking the Republican nomination nears a dozen, with more to come, the calendar of primaries has drawn increased attention, with party strategists trying to determine which contests will begin to winnow the field. Though the calendar remains unsettled, several Southern states, including Alabama and Arkansas, are looking to have an effect on the race by holding contests on the same date – creating a so-called SEC primary, named after the college sports Southeastern Conference. In Florida, Republicans have rallied around a winner-take-all primary that could be a jackpot in the race for delegates and potentially determine the electoral fate of the state’s former governor, Jeb Bush and its current Republican senator, Marco Rubio.Full Article: With big field, unsettled primary calendar adds complexity to GOP race - LA Times.
Nevada is keeping its caucuses for selecting presidential nominees, disappointing supporters of several Republican presidential contenders who had hoped to shift the early-voting state to a system of primaries. Caucuses are considered favorable to candidates who have a network of highly motivated activists, and in Nevada they are seen as especially favoring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul because of his family’s support in the state Republican party. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval backed legislation to change to a primary, but the bill never came up for a vote before the Legislature adjourned Monday night. It was the subject of frantic horse-trading and lobbying in the state capitol in Carson City until the final minutes of the session.Full Article: Nevada stays with caucus system.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, will face a significant legal barrier if he attempts to run in next year’s New York primary while remaining unaffiliated with a party. A section of state election law commonly known as Wilson-Pakula prohibits candidates from appearing on the ballot in a party’s primary unless they are either enrolled members or receive the approval of the party’s committee.Full Article: Sanders could face N.Y. primary ballot struggle | Capital New York.
Nevada: Republicans: Dump caucus, use early primary for presidential race | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Supporters of a Republican-backed bill to scrap Nevada’s presidential caucuses for a secret-ballot primary in February argued Tuesday that the move would expand participation in choosing the nation’s president. “Some people are very worried about upsetting the holidays and the inconvenience,” state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, told members of the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, which took no action on Senate Bill 421. “I personally don’t believe that the inconvenience of selecting the leader of the free world through a process that allows you to walk into a ballot box and cast your vote is too much of an inconvenience,” he said.Full Article: Nevada Republicans: Dump caucus, use early primary for presidential race | Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Editorials: The GOP’s worst nightmare and a pundit’s dream: A brokered convention in 2016 | Taegan Goddard/The Week
There are so many Republicans running for president, or thinking about running for president, that the Republican National Committee is having a hard time keeping track of them all. An official GOP online straw poll lists 36 potential candidates (and as Politico noted, that list actually missed at least two former governors who have said they’re mulling White House bids). Regardless of the final tally, it’s becoming increasingly clear that debate planners will need to come up with creative ways to fit so many podiums on the stage when the candidates first face off in August.Full Article: The GOP's worst nightmare and a pundit's dream: A brokered convention in 2016.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is a political independent, who proudly calls himself a socialist. As he declared his presidential candidacy Thursday, he pledged to run on the Democratic ticket. He could hit an early roadblock in New Hampshire — not with Hillary Clinton, but William Gardner, who has guarded the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary for four decades as Secretary of State. He said he isn’t sure whether Sanders meets the state’s requirement to be on the presidential ballot. “If they’re going to run in the primary, they have to be a registered member of the party,” Gardner told CNN. “Our declaration of candidacy form that they have to fill out says ‘I am a registered member of the party.'”Full Article: Potential roadblock for Bernie Sanders rises in New Hampshire - CNNPolitics.com.
Nevada: Why Ron Paul’s big showing in Nevada may have made it harder for Rand Paul to do the same | The Washington Post
Republican presidential politics in Nevada — a key early-voting state — have been chaotic in recent years, thanks in large part to former congressman and two-time GOP White House contender Ron Paul. Now his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is running for the office — and the state GOP may be making moves to guarantee the Paul family no longer finds Nevada to be lucky terrain. Nevada Republicans long generally picked a presidential favorite via primaries. In 2008, they held caucuses instead. Many Ron Paul voters showed up that day — but even more showed up at the state party’s convention months later. Paul’s supporters who flooded the gathering, looking to elect their candidate’s followers to represent the state at the national GOP convention. The state didn’t reschedule another convention, instead opting to choose delegates via conference call.Full Article: Why Ron Paul’s big showing in Nevada may have made it harder for Rand Paul to do the same - The Washington Post.
Iowa: Forget the caucuses, Iowa is terrible at picking the eventual GOP presidential nominee | The Washington Post
Some states know how to pick them. Some don’t. When it comes to choosing the eventual Republican presidential nominee, Iowa, famous for its early caucus, and Louisiana have the worst track-record in every election since 1976. Both have picked losers four times over that period, according to a new analysis by Eric Ostermeier, author of the Smart Politics blog and a research associate at the University of Minnesota. Of course, being first (or among the first) means no candidate has momentum yet, while later primaries and caucuses can be swayed by building support for one over the rest.Full Article: Forget the caucuses, Iowa is terrible at picking the eventual GOP presidential nominee - The Washington Post.