The Daily News Fix recently asked North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest a few questions regarding the current problem with the 2016 Presidential Primaries. An issue was created when, in 2014, the Republican National Convention (RNC) changed their rules after the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA), in 2013, had moved North Carolina’s Presidential Primary date to February 16th. This created a “Problem” because, according to RNC rules, there are only four states allowed to hold primaries prior to March 1, 2016 and NC is not one of them. The penalty for holding the primary early is having our 72 hard earned delegates stripped to 12 delegates at the National Convention. The RNC will not amend their rules to remedy our “Problem” here in North Carolina.
In what may have been an honest attempt to stake out strategic ground for NC in the Presidential Primaries, spotlighting and making us relevant, the NCGA has created a big “problem”. Or was the “problem” created by RNC? Neither wishes to concede. But it’s a fact that without a date change we automatically lose 60 delegates.
The reluctance to change the date has some merit. The Daily News Fix talked to a few NC Senators over the weekend and they were clear in their reasoning. They do not want to “set a precedent” by reacting to RNC rule changes. What they would like to see is the RNC agreeing to certain provisions so this bit of history doesn’t repeat itself. They say Leadership might concede to a date change if an agreement is made with RNC so this sort of thing won’t happen again. In other words, each would swallow a little pride and move past this while keeping our 72 delegates. While this is an honorable position to take, when asked the question, “Who has been talking to RNC and what progress is being made?”, there were assumptions but no one could say for sure. We have stressed in earlier articles in The Daily News Fix that NC’s 72 delegates were earned by the sweat of the brow and belong to the grassroots conservatives that fought in various capacities to attain the Republican Super Majority. It is NOT the right nor privilege of the NCGA to roll the dice with OUR delegates.
Daily News Fix ~ The 72 delegates to RNC were earned by the grassroots activists that worked to attain a super majority in NC. Wouldn’t you agree that the NCGA would be very shortsighted in keeping the February 16th Presidential Primary date and lose 60 delegates?
Lt. Governor Dan Forest ~ “I agreed with the original intent of moving up our primary so that NC could be more relevant in the selection of the President of the United States. However, when the RNC set their rules, stripping early states of their delegates, that changed everything. At a minimum, we should move the date back to March 1, so that we do not penalize our delegation at the National Convention. I personally favor March 22 as a viable date to hold the primary, as we would be the largest “winner take all” state at stake that day.”
Daily News Fix ~ Some legislators were concerned about the timing of the Presidential Primary and the effect that would have on increased sales tax revenue, hence their reasoning for an earlier primary. Isn’t that kind of missing the point?
Lt. Governor Dan Forest ~ “I think it is valid to take this into consideration, but remember, when you move it from February to March you are still moving it ahead of where our primary has traditionally been held, which is May. March is still earlier than May, and by putting it in March and keeping our delegation at its full 72 delegate voting strength, you will still incentivize the field of candidates to travel to NC to campaign and bring the economic benefit of these visits to our state.”
Daily News Fix ~ Those advocating for keeping the Feb 16th date claimed the sales tax revenue would offset the cost of 2 primaries totally discounting the fact we would lose 60 delegates. Do you think that justifies a split primary and losing 72?
Lt. Governor Dan Forest ~ “Whatever date the General Assembly picks needs to be after March 1. To do otherwise, strips us of our delegates and kills our relevance in picking a Presidential candidate. If NC is only worth 12 delegates and those delegates are awarded proportional, not winner take all, then NC would be worth 2, maybe 3, delegates to the eventual winner. None of the Presidential candidates will make a major push in our state if they can only obtain 2 or 3 delegates by winning it.”
Daily News Fix ~ What do you think about combining the general and Presidential primaries?
Wouldn’t this be a great savings to the taxpayers?
Lt. Governor Dan Forest ~ “If we can combine them, I think we should, so as to save the costs of having two primaries. I know there are members of the General Assembly concerned with that and hopefully having discussions to address that issue as this moves forward.”
Daily News Fix ~ What measures would you recommend to prevent voter fatigue if the general and presidential primary are not recombined?
Lt. Governor Dan Forest ~ “I don’t think two primaries is enough to cause fatigue. I think it best if they were combined, but more from a perspective of saving money than causing fatigue.”
Daily News Fix ~ For those who say Winner Take All is an unfair method for in the Presidential Primary, what you say to them?
Lt. Governor Dan Forest ~ “I think proportional and winner take all are both fine systems. I prefer winner take all because it makes NC a big prize and incentivizes the candidates to spend quality time, money and effort in our state.”
The Daily News Fix agrees with the Lt. Governor on each point. However, the question regarding voter fatigue deserves further discussion. Two primaries are a definite disadvantage when it comes to getting voters to the polls. What about the volunteers? Volunteers do just that, they volunteer…. most taking time from work to stand outside the polls all day or work in other capacities throughout the election cycle. Combining primaries makes good fiscal sense but also keeps volunteers engaged and willing to stay in the fight.
The Daily News Fix thanks Lt. Governor Dan Forest for his stance and his devotion to this issue. We hope that his voice of reason will influence the NC Senate leadership to take a hard look at moving the date for the 2016 Presidential Primary to March 22, 2016 and combining with general primary. We hope our readership will take the time to call or visit you NC Senator or Representative in the near future and voice your concerns on this issue.