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Michael Steele: Southern 'Super Tuesday' Could Boost Conservatives

By    |   Saturday, 23 May 2015 02:03 PM

Southern Republican leaders are pushing for several states to move up their primary dates to create a regional "Super Tuesday" election day that could end up rivaling traditional early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have already agreed to participate, writes former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, after the Republican National Committee changed its rules to allow states to vote in either primaries or caucuses as early as March 1. In addition, North Carolina has not yet set a date, and Louisiana's primary is set for March 5.

The change could create an advantage for the GOP's more conservative candidates while causing issues for the party's establishment White House hopefuls, writes Steele, now a political analyst at MSNBC.

The RNC made changes in the primary process after the 2012 GOP primaries, which pundits and primary leaders said undermined Mitt Romney, who faced a lengthy nominating process.

The RNC has also reduced the number of debates and has moved up the date for its convention, which will allow the eventual nominee to raise money, in hopes to "clean up what for some had become an overly messy process," said Steele.

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada will still have the first primaries, which Steele noted generates publicity and most likely determines the eventual nominee.

However, conservatives complain that the process makes it difficult for one of their own candidates to become nominated.

National Committeeman for Virginia Morton Blackwell, who is also the founder of the Leadership Institute, said in a commentary that the current process makes it ""impossible for a less well-known conservative candidate … to come from behind and elect a majority of the convention delegates.”

There are also penalties under RNC rules for any state party that schedules its presidential elections before March 1, Steele notes, and any state that holds a primary or caucus between March 1-15 must award its delegates on a proportional basis to allow candidates to compete nationally in an upcoming round of primaries.

In primaries held after March 15, the delegates are awarded on a "winner-take-all" basis, said Steele.

In the south, the early "Super Tuesday" series, nicknamed the "SEC Primary" after college Southeastern Conference, may make it harder to ignore conservative candidates, such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or longshot Dr. Ben Carson, who would then get a chance to further push their efforts in other states, said Steele.

"We could actually see four different winners emerge from each of those early contests, giving conservative candidates an advantage on Super Tuesday and Southern voters a strong say in who walks into Cleveland with an edge, if not the nomination itself," Steele writes.

"Depending on what happens in February, this new Super Tuesday [primary] could actually decide the GOP nominee," said Georgia's Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans.

"For the Republican establishment, that would be a political earthquake," writes Steele. "And for Southern conservatives, a slice of political heaven. Either way, March 2, 2016 could be a significant date on the GOP presidential calendar: It may well be the day the race for the nomination really begins."

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Southern Republican leaders are pushing for several states to move up their primary dates to create a regional Super Tuesday election day that could end up rivaling traditional early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
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2015-03-23
Saturday, 23 May 2015 02:03 PM
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