North Carolina Faces the Perils of Moving Up Primary

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

North Carolina Faces the Perils of Moving Up Primary


Byline: Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Republicans are tired of being in the back of the line when choosing presidential nominees. But their decision to leapfrog toward the front in the primary season could cost the state its influence in GOP politics and sets up a Carolinas clash with its neighbor.

For more than 25 years the GOP presidential nomination has already been sewn up by the time North Carolina primary voters get their turn in early May. A new state law moves the primaries to three days after South Carolina's -- sometime in February. An earlier race raises hope among some that North Carolina will finally make a difference, especially with so many Republican candidates lining up to compete for the nomination next year.

But shuffling the political calendar has consequences, as other states champing at the bit have found in the past. North Carolina's move runs afoul of Republican Party rules and risks costing the state more than 80 percent of its delegates to the GOP convention. That would probably keep most of the candidates away from the parades, political Lincoln Day dinners and most North Carolina television markets until later in the year, when the November presidential election is underway and it's only a head-to-head race.

"North Carolina threatens to upend the process, mostly to their own detriment," South Carolina GOP Chairman Matt Moore said in an interview. He's unhappy about his state's turn on the stage being crowded by its neighbor. South Carolina's primaries are expected Feb. 13 or 20 next year, meaning North Carolina's would be also come that month.

This conflicts with the national party's demand that only four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- hold presidential contests before March 1. Any state that jumps ahead risks losing most of its voting convention delegates.

North Carolina GOP Chairman Claude Pope wants the primaries held March 1 to escape the national party's penalty yet give his state an earlier race than before. "A presidential candidate who wins a primary in North Carolina could immediately jump to front-runner status in a very crowded field," Pope wrote in a recent op-ed. …

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