Republicans Penalize Early Primary States

The RNC is joining its Democratic counterpart in punishing states who hold primaries earlier than allowed.

The Republican National Committee plans to penalize at least four states holding early primaries, including New Hampshire and Florida, by refusing to seat at least half their delegates at the party’s national convention in 2008, a party official said Tuesday.

Much of the focus in the primary scheduling fight up to now has been on the Democratic National Committee’s moves to penalize Florida by not seating its convention delegates because of the state’s decision to move up its primary. But the Republican rules are even more stringent, and the national party said today that it would not hesitate enforcing them.

The actions by Republicans and Democrats to move against states holding early contests is a rare instance of the two parties moving in concert, in this case to regain control over a rapidly evolving primary calendar that has thrust the nominating system into deep uncertainty just months before it is to begin. “The rules are clear,” said Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Any state that holds their primary outside of the window shall be penalized delegates.”

Strategically, this may be a bad move, in that it obviates whatever advantage would otherwise have been gained by the DNC’s penalizing Florida. But it’s the right thing to do.

As I’ve argued countless times, the current rules need to be changed. But one doesn’t do that after the game has begun. We can live by the structure agreed to ahead of time and then work to come up with a more logical system for 2012.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim says:

    Exactly how are the “Republican rules are even more stringent”? The Dems are penalizing Florida by docking all their delegates, the Repubs are docking half. This is more stringent?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Exactly how are the “Republican rules are even more stringent”?

    Apparently, the GOP dates are absolute, as even New Hampshire is penalized. The Dems seem to be basing everything relational to NH, which is why Florida is in trouble.

  3. Kent says:

    It’s been obvious for years that the primaries should be held in every state on the same day. The system appears to be evolving that way more or less spontaneously. Good.

  4. Triumph says:

    Republicans Penalize Early Primary States

    I bet Larry Craig is at the forefront of any Republican effort to penalize!