On the surface it sounds like a great idea.
Yes, I live in the first in the nation caucus state of Iowa, and take full advantage of the influence that provides me as a conservative activist (and I enthusiastically encourage my brethren here to do likewise). I’m also proud of the job my home state does making the candidates come out from behind their consulted-crafted talking points and commercials, and actually retail politic with the populace.
Nonetheless, it’s always seemed utterly silly to me the Republican Party often determines its presidential nominee before the bulk of the conservative-leaning states in the South get to have a say. After all, shouldn’t a majority of the base of the party have a say in who its standard-bearer is? Isn’t the majority of that base found in places like Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi?
That’s why initially I was excited to hear news of a “Southern Super Tuesday” to be held as early as March 1st during the 2016 GOP presidential primary. New party rules have the Iowa Caucuses in February after they started right after New Year’s the past two cycles to maintain their pre-eminence. Next comes New Hampshire, South Carolina, and then Nevada. And unlike 2008 and 2012 when states like Florida attempted to move their primaries up in order to gain relevance, the penalties for attempting that again are so Draconian it’s highly unlikely we’ll see any other states attempt to go before March 1st.
That would make a “Southern Super Tuesday” held around that date a big-time player in the process, and should be advantageous for the grassroots, right? Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s top political operative thinks so.
Chip Saltsman, who ran Huckabee’s 2008 campaign and is in line to oversee his 2016 bid as well, told Politico that “someone who can come out of February having won two of the four early states and then run the table in the South would be set up with huge momentum.”
However, a “little birdie” of mine who prefers to remain nameless, but was on the Republican National Committee as these rules were being crafted, said this was all a ruse devised by the establishment to snooker conservatives.
“Look closer at the rules and you’ll see this is tailor-made for Jeb Bush 2016,” he told me. “Under the new rules, which were driven down our throats by Bush family loyalist Ben Ginsberg and the establishment at the 2012 convention, states aren’t allowed to have ‘winner-take-all’ primaries until after March 15th. That means all those southern states that go prior to that will have to proportionally-allocate their delegates.”
I then asked him why that’s problematic.
“The new rules also state you have to have a majority — not a plurality, but a majority — of the delegates from eight states to be put into nomination at the convention,” he replied. “So if the southern states proportionally-allocate their delegates, getting a majority of them in a crowded field like this will be is virtually impossible. The proportional allocation will encourage more candidates to stay in it longer, too. Remember, that was Newt Gingrich’s excuse for why he hung around so long after most thought he was no longer a viable challenger the last time.
So all Jeb Bush has to do is wait it out. Get to the more liberal states like New York and California, which show up later on and have huge delegate numbers that are winner-take-all. Sweep the majority of those in the spring and he’s won the nomination. And yet again we would’ve nominated a candidate who is weak where we have to win, and strong where we’ll probably lose.
My little birdie says if Texas and Florida join the “Southern Super Tuesday” fray it would ironically elevate the conservative south’s exposure at the expense of a conservative candidate’s ability to win the nomination.
“Don’t buy into this at all,” he warned. “This is all a plot by the Bushes and the establishment to patronize the southern states right into irrelevance. Also keep in mind the establishment still has power-brokers in the south, and they’re the ones pushing this. We just saw that in how many of those Senate primaries they won last year in conservative southern states. And those power-brokers may have a folksy southern drawl, but they’re establishment all the way. The same people who stole the Mississippi U.S. Senate primary last year are some of the same people pushing for states like Mississippi to have even less relevance in choosing our next nominee.”
Finally, he concluded with this:
If these conservative southern states really want to have a huge say in who our nominee is, then they should wait to go all together, winner-take-all on March 15th.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.