Move N.C. presidential primary to March 1

Claude Pope Jr.
Claude Pope Jr.

From Claude Pope Jr., chairman of the N.C. Republican Party:

We haven’t had a meaningful Republican presidential primary in North Carolina since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1976. Since then, our May primaries have had little impact, since the states that host earlier primaries tend to winnow the field substantially. By the time our May primary rolls around, the ultimate nominee has been a foregone conclusion. In 2016, North Carolina’s Republican voters could have a significant impact on the selection of the party’s presidential nominee.

Our recent victories have earned the NCGOP a windfall of 72 delegates to the 2016 National Convention. It could be the largest delegation of Republicans from North Carolina in history, and would be the sixth-largest delegation from any state. A presidential candidate who wins a primary in North Carolina could immediately jump to “front runner” status in a crowded field. If, by chance, no candidate wraps up the nomination by the National Convention, our 72 delegates could take center stage in a “brokered” convention from the floor, and would exert tremendous influence upon the selection of our ultimate presidential nominee.

Or not.

NC would be punished for early primary

A newly enacted law sets our presidential primary on the “first Tuesday after the South Carolina primary.” That likely puts the primary date in February of 2016. The RNC’s rules provide a “carve-out” for February primaries for only four states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Any state that violates this rule by conducting a February primary will forfeit all but 12 delegates. There are no exceptions, and North Carolina remains out of compliance with this rule. There is a simple fix – move our presidential primary to Tuesday, March 1.

Our legislature had good intentions when it established a February primary date, assuming that the world would beat a path to our door – bringing national media exposure, money, and an economic boom-let to North Carolina. But the crowded field of presidential wannabes will not step foot in our state. They will not visit the fire stations or Rotary Clubs. They won’t ride in the parades, eat barbecue, kiss babies or spend their millions fighting over just 12 delegates – it simply isn’t worth the money.

So, goodbye economic boom-let. Goodbye to relevance, and goodbye to any influence on the national level. Say hello to the mass of disenfranchised (and very upset) grassroots activists denied once again – by the law of unintended consequences – of finally having their say in who gets selected as our party’s nominee.

Or not.

March 1: The Goldilocks date

Move the primary to Tuesday, March 1, and enjoy the economic boom-let. Bring on the candidates, and their entourages. Let them fill up our hotels, restaurants and our high school auditoriums – and for the first time since 1976, our grassroots Republicans will have their say.

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