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Hi, this is a cross-post from my blog The Foghorn. Please feel free to leave comments on either site (or both!)
Who says good ideas can't come from the Republican party?
I'm not sure if the motivation is a.) watching the Democratic party tear itself apart over a protracted primary season or b.) sour grapes from the Republican establishment over the selection of Sen. John McCain as their nominee, but the RNC Rules Committee has approved the "Ohio Plan" for consideration by the full RNC for creating a rotating primary between 4 "pods" of the country for the next presidential election season.
CQPolitics.com has the full details, and the proposal is a long way from formal adoption. Due to the way the Republican party rules stipulate how the election calendar can be amended, the proposal has to be ready in time for this year's Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where McCain will receive the Republican party nomination.
The proposal as adopted takes on many of the characteristics of similar plans that have been gaining credibility over the past several months as the regret of the front-loaded primary season this year has resulted in a very compressed schedule, and unexpectedly gave a lot more weight to states that didn't move their primaries up.
As proposed, no primaries could occur until the first week of February. Iowa and New Hampshire would retain the right to go first, and cherry-picking an idea from the Democrats, South Carolina and Nevada would be next in line after New Hampshire. After those states went, the remaining states would be split into 4 "pods", with 17 small states and territories always going first. The remaining 3 pods would be randomly assigned an order for the 2012 election, and then rotated through subsequent elections, with the middle pod in 2012 going first in 2016, the first pod last, etc.
States could go later than their assigned pod date, but not earlier. Sanctions would be to strip states of delegates, as happened this year in both parties.
The next steps would be to have the proposal reviewed and approved by the full RNC at their meeting immediately prior to the convention, and then approved by the Convention Rules Committee. Assuming it passes those hurdles, it would then have to be approved by the full Republican Convention, with all 2,000+ delegates. Apparently a similar proposal, called the "Delaware Plan", made it past the RNC in 2000, but was torpedoed by the Bush campaign as they were worried about upsetting the agenda for Bush's nomination at the convention (once again, style over substance in the Bush administration).
The Democratic Party has looser rules for determining their primary calendar, and so they do not need to have a proposal ready for their national convention.
Even assuming the DNC and RNC both approve the general plan, the individual states would have to agree and many states would presumably have to pass legislation to move their primary or caucus dates. It's not sure how that will play out given the mess of the delegates in the Democratic process this year, we'll have to wait and see.
Overall, this is a positive first step and I'm glad to see the Republican party realizing they need to do something now to hopefully have a workable solution in 2012.