Georgia on My Mind
01-19-2011
This little item caught my attention earlier today. It sounds like the Georgia state legislature is flirting with the idea of moving its presidential primary from a Super Tuesday grouping of states in March 2012 to a separate earlier date of its choosing. You may recall that Georgia moved its primary up by one month in 2008, in order to join the many states that held contests on February 5th that year. So, the Georgia primary would still occur later in 2012 than it did in 2008, but the legislature’s intention would be to select a date on which the Peach State would not need to share the spotlight with any other contests.
 
What I find fascinating about this particular scheduling enterprise, is that Georgia is considering moving its primary up by just a few days, perhaps to the Thursday before a big multi-state Tuesday event in March, but not so far that it would impinge on the protected scheduling status enjoyed by Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. This way (the logic goes) the state could play more of a kingmaker role in the South, without risking delegate penalties from the national committees of the sort levied against Michigan and Florida in 2008.
 
Sound like a reasonable plan? Perhaps to the Georgia state legislature, but even a small scheduling move like this has the potential to set off a legislative chain reaction in other states, prompting them to start leapfrogging each other in small calendar increments. This is not necessarily something about which New Hampshire should be overly concerned, but if sufficient calendar frontloading ensues, we could end up with another quasi-national primary day shortly after the official primary contest window opens (following New Hampshire et al.). While it doesn’t sound like anything final has been decided in Georgia, this could turn out to be the start of an interesting political drama to watch in the coming months.


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