Monday, February 6, 2012

How did Missouri get a caucus and a primary that doesn’t count?

Tommorow is the Presidential primary election in Missouri – but it doesn’t count. Instead, caucuses that start on March 17th will select which GOP Presidential candidate Missouri backs. How did this come about? There is no short answer, and the answer will probably not satisfy anyone.

In 2010 the Republican National Committee (RNC) set new rules for the 2012 race that would punish any state, other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada, to have a primary or caucus before March 6, 2012. Any state that had a contest before that date would lose half its delegates at the national convention – meaning the state’s vote only counted for half of what it would otherwise. The RNC’s goal was to combat the trend of front-loading the primaries in which states moved them earlier and earlier.

The problem was that Missouri’s Presidential primary election was set for early February, as it had been since 2002 when the date was last changed. Unless something changed, the RNC would punish Missouri by striping the state of half of its delegates.

In April 2011 the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill that would move the date of the Presidential primary. The new date for the election would be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, which was the earliest date allowed by the RNC. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support: in the House by a vote of 137 to 11 and in the Senate 31 to 2.

In July, though, Governor Nixon vetoed the bill. There were two other election related changes, dealing with write-in candidates and special elections that the Governor objected to and killed the bill. Legislative leaders were upset because Gov. Nixon had not told anyone beforehand that he objected to these provisions.

When the General Assembly went into special session in early September the change of the primary was on the agenda. The special session in 2011 did not go smoothly, however. In the first three days of the special session the House passed the change by a vote of 147 to 2 and sent the bill to the Senate where it stopped. The House and the Senate were in disagreement over another bill and the Senate declined to address the election issue.

The RNC set a deadline of October 1st for states to let the national party know when their nominating contest would be. With the primary bill stuck in the Senate the Missouri Republican Party (MRP) announced on September 30th that it would use a caucus to pick the GOP nominee in 2012. The party set the date for the first round of the caucus on March 17th so as to avoid punishment by the RNC.

In mid-October the state Senate debated a number of proposals. There was one that would move the primary up to January, one would push it back to March (the original plan), and another would abolish it. Since the primary now would be a beauty contest and would not be binding there was an effort to eliminate the primary in 2012 to save the state of Missouri roughly $7 million. The Senate voted to skip the primary, but the vote tied at 16 to 16, which failed to pass thus keeping the primary in addition to the caucus.

Missouri’s primary is February 6th, but the Republican Presidential nominee will be selected at the March 17th caucus – if you are interested in the race then go to your caucus.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Public Service

U.S. News and World Report has a new issue out that examines public service, a topic which we should focus on more often than we do. One of the essays is by former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and it has some excellent points.
"Democracies and institutions of self-governance work because of responsible citizenship. Politics is the framework and elections the process that democracies use to choose leaders. The quality of leaders and effectiveness of government are directly related to informed and committed citizens willing to participate in politics. We draw from this universe those willing to offer themselves as candidates for elective office. Elections have consequences because they produce the leaders who shape the policies that govern a democracy. Politics reflects society. Every variation of public service, including elective office, should be anchored by one complete and overriding truth and objective—to make a better world. Political office is but one way to work toward this end and offer oneself in its service.

Politics is a noble endeavor—only if it is about public service. I often tell bright young people who seek my advice on running for office: Consider it only for the right reasons and understand it will be frustrating, often unfair and negative, occasionally brutal, but always exhilarating as well as enriching, rewarding, and worth doing."

Something to think about as we the voters have decisions to make a week from now at the polls.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The next two presidential elections

The presidential races have gotten longer and longer over the last few cycles and we see a number of Republicans positioning them or considering a run for the White House in 2012. While I am at silly long term Presidential race speculation, I'll throw in some comments about the 2016 race as well.

First, a few of notes about the field of potential contenders: a good chunk of the Republicans who are seriously considering a run are ones that were involved in the 2008 race, as candidates in the primary (Romney, Huckabee, Paul) or were on the ticket (Palin). Also, many of them will be out of office if they opt in for the 2012 race (Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Huckabee, Palin, Hagel) - they won't have to balance the campaign schedule with governing, and the last couple of years have been full of tough choices for budgets around the country - not an easy time to be in office. Mitt Romney has been positioning himself as the candidate most adept at economic issues, but Chris Cillizza aptly points out so far there has been no "national security guy" in the Republican field. Lastly, Republicans like a front runner.

Possible 2012 Republican Contenders:

Mitt Romney (former Governor of Massachusetts) ran in 2008 and as of now is the likely front runner for the 2012 Republican nomination. He worked hard for John McCain after losing the nomination in 2008 and really impressed a lot of people. Mr. Romney has been focused on the economy for the last two years and if the economy is still issue #1 he is going to be difficult to beat for the Republican nomination in 2012.

Tim Pawlenty (Governor of Minnesota) is staffed up and ready to go. More than any of the other contenders, Romney and Pawlenty are getting their organizations in place and traveling around the country introducing themselves and lining up support. Gov. Pawlenty, though, has many more introductions to make - most Americans don't know who he is. He is not running for reelection this year, so will be a former governor come January.

Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives) gave some good advice to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels: if people think that you might run for President, they will pay more attention to you and your ideas. My thinking is that Mr. Gingrich is taking his own advice. He has positioned himself as an ideas man and is making some serious money. His personal baggage is too much to be successful in a Republican primary, and my assumption is that he knows that. Side note: Esquire's recent article on Gingrich is well worth the read.

Mike Huckabee (former Governor of Arkansas) ran in 2008 and went from obscurity to well known around the country. He kept his campaign positive and showed an excellent sense of humor (his Chuck Norris ad is one I show my classes). He did very well with social conservatives and younger votes, but the question remains how wide his appeal will be. Mr. Huckabee has remained in the public eye, primarily with a show on FOX News.

Sarah Palin (former Governor of Alaska) is invariably near the top of the list when the 2012 conversation topic comes up. The reaction to the idea of Mrs. Palin as President (or as a candidate) is one that does vary significantly. Some love her, some hate her. She has great name recognition and visibility, but that can hurt as her image has been crafted already. Now she has to shape a preexisting image, a harder task in someways that a candidate introducing themselves to a new audience. Many Republicans are hesitant to support her as they feel she would make a poor candidate in a general election (and resigning as Governor still has many baffled).

Chuck Hagel (former Senator from Nebraska) would make a great president and seriously considered running in 2008. He opted against running for President after correctly assessing that he would not be able to prevail in the Republican primary (thought he would have made a great general election candidate given the issues that dominated that fall's race). He retired from the Senate and made good on his 1996 pledge to only serve two terms. He has stayed active, particularly in foreign and intelligence policy issues, but my guess is that he will not run in 2012. Were he to run, he would bring the national security and foreign policy expertise that is lacking in the rest of the field.

Rick Santorum (former Senator from Pennsylvania) lost his seat in the Senate in the 2006 election, but remains popular among the social conservatives of the party. Santorum has been popping up on lists for possible 2012 contenders, especially since he visited Iowa last year. As Politico notes: "Clearly, though, Santorum is striving to remain in the public eye. He’s a Fox News contributor, guest-hosts William Bennett’s nationally syndicated radio show every Friday morning and writes a regular column in the Philadelphia Inquirer." Bottom line for me, though, is that he got beat in his reelection campaign in a key swing state.

Haley Barbour (Governor of Mississippi) has a strong reputation as Governor (his state came away from Katrina looking much better than their neighbor to the West) and is considering a 2012 run. Gov. Barbour is a powerhouse in Republican politics, as a former chairman of the RNC and current head of the RGA. From Politico:
"Barbour’s clout is also derived from his serious interest in running for president in 2012, a point he is making clear in private conversations. His logic, one adviser told POLITICO, is simple: When he surveys what most Republicans consider to be a weak field, he sees no reason he couldn’t easily beat them. He’s a better strategist and fundraiser than any other candidate currently considering running — and just as good on television and in debates, his thinking goes."
Mitch Daniels (Governor of Indiana) is another Governor that has been encouraged to run in 2012. For a nice overview of Gov. Daniels, check out the Economist, which has a nice piece on him. The Washington Post reported that while he had previously said that he will not run for President in 2012, he has backed off that stance and is now keeping his mind open to the idea, largely because a number of people have urged him to run. At this point he would be a long shot and seems unlikely to jump in the race, but I would like to see him seriously consider it. One strike against Mr. Daniels: significant baldness. When was the last time you saw a bald President? There are not even many bald governors. When Joe Biden decided to run for President in 2008 what did he do? He got hair plugs.

John Thune (Senator from South Dakota) has supporters telling him to run in 2012 and will be giving it serious consideration. He is up for reelection this year, which would give him a good fundraising opportunity. The Fix outlines his strengths and weakness as a 2012 contender as they see it.

Ron Paul (U.S. House member from Texas) is apparently planning on running again in 2012. Rep. Paul energized people across the country in his 2008 race, but didn't end up swaying that many voters. My prediction: he won't win.

Mike Pence (U.S. House member from Indiana) is probably kicking himself for not jumping into the 2010 Indiana Senate contest (everyone seemed surprised that Sen. Evan Bayh decided not to run for reelection). He has said that he is considering a 2012 run at the White House. He is a darling of the ideological right wing of the party, but a U.S. House member has a tough road to the White House (no one in the 20th Century did it). A run may be useful to Rep. Pence to increase his name recognition and national image, but I would see it as a long shot.

Bobby Jindal (Governor of Louisiana) is mentioned as a possibility for 2012, but my bet is that he will wait for 2016 (if President Obama is reelected). He's young (only 39) and has time to wait. If he opts to run it is likely just to advance his image and make him a more serious player in the party and to build the groundwork for a later run.

And now for the waaay too far off speculation: the 2016 race. These are the people I'll be watching for the 2016 race.

The Democrats:
Hillary Clinton has said that she will not run for President again, but is going to be the first name many think of for the 2016 Democratic field.
Evan Bayh (former Indiana Governor and Senator)
Mark Warner (Senator from Virginia)

The Republicans (assuming President Obama is reelected, otherwise the incumbent will likely be a shoo in for the nomination):
Jon Huntsman (U.S. Ambassador to China, former Utah Governor)
Bobby Jindal (Governor of Louisiana)
John Thune (Senator from South Dakota)

I would love to hear from readers: what are your thoughts on the Republican 2012 field or about the potential candidates themselves.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Transparency strikes again

This is why we have ethics reports published: so people who are interested can read up for fun, and perhaps even make a difference.

Case in point: The Beacon Backroom reported on a new Missouri Ethics Commission complaint against Cynthia Davis, who is a member of the Missouri House of Representatives and is challenging incumbent GOP state Senator Scott Rupp in next Tuesday's primary election.

I am impressed with this find and the analysis of it. "Dawson said today that she wanted to emphasize that good government, not politics, was her motivation. "I have a master's degree in public affairs," Dawson said. At the moment, she's also unemployed so "I have a lot of free time right now.""

Now that is putting spare time to good use.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Corcoran is out in the 24th

The Missouri 24th Senate District is going be to be hotly contested one this election cycle. The Democratic primary is shaping up to be one of the biggest in the state and today we see an interesting development. Four term (and term limited) State Representative Mike Corcoran has dropped out of the race. This leaves former Rep. Page and County Councilwoman Fraser as the key contenders for the seat. There is another entry in the Democratic primary, but she doesn't seem to be campaigning.

Here is a response from the Page campaign on the news:
Corcoran Withdraws From Senate Race

State Representative Michael Corcoran from St. Ann, has withdrawn from the Democratic primary for the 24th District Senate seat.

In a press release Corcoran cited the need to spend more time with his two sons as the reason he has decided against a run for the state senate.Corcoran served four terms as the State Representative for the 77th District, and had also been a member of the St. Ann Board of Aldermen.

"I wish Mike and his family the best," Page said. "He has been a strong leader for the St. Ann community and organized labor for the past eight years."

Corcoran's decision leaves Dr. Sam Page and two other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the 24th State Senate District.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face John Lamping, who is the only Republican running for the seat.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Top of the ticket in Illinois - The Republicans

The top of the ticket in the 2010 Illinois Elections will be the Governor and the U.S. Senate seat. There are seven Republicans running for Governor and five running for the U.S. Senate. Here are some thoughts from across Illinois on these two races (the primary is on February 2nd). Dick Simpson, a former alderman who teaches political science at the University of Illinois - Chicago, articulates the key elements of the race: "February’s election is about two things: economics and ethics. The state has a budget deficit estimated at $13 billion. It can’t pay its bills. Its bonds are just above junk status." That's what this is all about - economics and ethics.


Our choice is state Sen. Kirk Dillard, 54, a lawyer from Hinsdale. He is conservative, but not doctrinaire, and has worked effectively across the aisle on issues important to the state. Before being elected to the Senate in 1994, he was chief of staff for popular Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, who has endorsed him. He cites Mr. Edgar’s tight fiscal discipline as a model for extricating Illinois from its $12 billion budget deficit.
Dick Simpson writes in the Chicago Journal:
On the Republican side, Jim Ryan is the strongest candidate even though State Sen. Kirk Dillard would make a better governor.
The Chicago Sun-Times has endorsed Sen. Kirk Dillard:
The Chicago Sun-Times endorses Sen. Kirk Dillard for governor in the Feb. 2 Republican primary. No other candidate comes close to matching his experience in the executive and legislative branches of state government, his knowledge of the back doors of power in Springfield, and his proven ability to build cross-party coalitions without abandoning core Republican values.
U.S. Senate

Experience, intellect and service make Mark Kirk of Highland Park the clear choice. He has represented his affluent Chicago North Shore district in the U.S. House since 2000. He is a leader among House GOP moderates and is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Mr. Kirk is that increasingly rare bird, an independent Republican, conservative on defense and fiscal affairs, moderate to liberal on social issues. Historically, that places him in the mainstream of the Illinois GOP and would make him a formidable candidate in November.
Dick Simpson writes in the Chicago Journal:
On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk is the smartest and most polished candidate. He deserves to win that primary.
The Chicago Sun-Times has endorsed U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk:

An effective five-term congressman from the north suburbs, Kirk has pro-growth views on the economy, a personal commitment to the military and a moderate stance on social issues that could attract independent voters who favored Democrats in recent elections. Smart and detail-orientated, he can captivate an audience with an in-depth, nuanced discussion of complicated issues such as the implications of closing the Guantanamo detention facility or an assessment of the Afghan war.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on either of these (or other) races.

"A Twinkling Civility"

Tom Roeser, Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer, has a great piece on why he supports state Senator Kirk Dillard for the Republican nomination for Illinois Governor. To me, what was great was the approach taken - that we will not find the perfect candidate, but we should not be looking for perfection. I encourage you to read "Like Reagan, Kirk Dillard Has Only 99.44% Party Purity: Is it Enough for Illinois Republicans?"