Republicans to Punish Early Primary States

The Republican National Committee has taken the first step toward stripping delegates from states who hold primaries before February 5.

Republican Party leaders on Monday recommended punishing five states for shifting their nomination contests earlier, moving to strip New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Wyoming of half their delegates. At least one state, South Carolina, is considering legal action in an effort to keep its delegates to next year’s Republican National Convention.

Iowa, which plans to hold Republican caucuses on Jan. 3, would not be penalized because, technically, the caucuses are not binding on convention delegates. Nevada, which plans to hold its caucuses on Jan. 19, would not be penalized for the same reason.

“It’s very important that our party uphold and enforce the rules that we unanimously voted into place at the Republican National Convention in 2004,” said Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The rules ban holding votes before Feb. 5. Wyoming is scheduled to hold its nominating conventions on Jan. 5. Michigan will hold its Republican primary on Jan. 15, South Carolina on Jan. 19 and Florida on Jan. 29. New Hampshire has not yet set a primary date, though it is required by state law to hold its primary at least seven days before any other, raising the possibility of a December vote.

The Republican National Committee’s executive committee made the recommendation for punishments. The proposal now goes to the full RNC, which will vote on a recommendation to Duncan following state elections in November. Duncan has the final say.

While I think the primary process as it now exists is idiotic, I don’t see that the RNC has any choice but to enforce its rules. The backlash will be mitigated by the fact that the Democrats are having the same issue and also appear set to strip votes from the “sooners,” having already announced they will strip Florida of its delegates.

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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. davod says:

    strip the delegates and possibly nominate someone without knowing the intentions of some of your states. A good way to lose an election, not to mention alienate the states.