Secretary of State Brian Kemp called this morning, during the commute to the state Capitol. So you’ll pardon the lack of direct quotes.
Our topic was South Carolina’s unfunded presidential primary – and the chance that the February winner-take-all event could devolve into a less-influential caucus. Here’s the latest from The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.:
State law allows the S.C. Election Commission to run the 2012 S.C. Republican presidential primary even if Gov. Nikki Haley vetoes sections of the state budget intended to ensure the agency oversees that vote, according to an opinion issued Monday by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Haley has threatened to veto sections of the budget that allow the Election Commission to use $680,000 in its savings to help pay the primary’s estimated $1.5 million cost. Republican Haley repeatedly has said taxpayers should not pay for the primary.
S.C. GOP chairman Chad Connelly said last week that, without the state’s electronic voting machines, paid poll workers and other oversight, the party legally might not be able to host the primary, expected to be held in February or March.”
Kemp now has the power to name the date for Georgia’s presidential primary. He said he’s keeping a close eye on the South Carolina situation. If the Palmetto State gives up the honor of hosting the first deep South primary, Kemp would considering pushing Georgia into that spot.
Kemp specifically pointed to talk that rebellious Florida may move its primary day from Jan. 31 – a date the Republican National Committee said would cost the state half its delegates to the Tampa convention – to something later. From USA Today:
The calendar remains unsettled, and the Florida date is to be set by a commission whose members will be named by [Gov. Rick] Scott and state legislative leaders. [State Senate President Mike] Haridopolos and Republican state Chairman Dave Bitner [say] they are floating the idea of setting the primary March 1, 2 or 3.
That would be after the first four states but before the Super Tuesday primaries March 6.
If the RNC allows Florida to move to a Thursday, Friday or Saturday vote at the front end of March without penalty, there’s no reason that Georgia shouldn’t be allowed to do the same, the secretary of state said. The pairing of media markets would be interesting.
In particular, Kemp noted that the annual Florida-Georgia football game in Jacksonville has retired the phrase, “World’s Largest Cocktail Party.” This might be a way to revive it, he said.
It certainly would drive a few candidates to drink.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider