As More States Jump Primary Calendar, RNC Backs Down On Sanctions

As most of you may know, way back when the Intergalactic Lord Xenu was sealing up all those malevolent Thetans inside Earth's volcanoes at the Beginning of Time, he also sealed an unbreakable decree that the presidential primary system would begin in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada. Ever after, politicians have begun their campaign travails on the streets of Des Moines and Manchester. But over time, other states, jealous of the disproportionate impact these states have on the primary race have attempted to break ranks, because surely everyone has some parochial concern as good as ethanol subsidies to which candidates should be forced to pander.

Back in 2008, Michigan and Florida bucked the system, and this caused nothing but comical strife and chaos on the Democratic side. This primary season, however, has seen a host of insurgent states trying to move up on the primary calendar. Florida is making a second run into the early states' territory. Minnesota has gotten in on the act. Kansas has mulled the option. Mitt Romney, seeking to plant the inevitability flag early, floated the idea of moving Utah up. Colorado Republicans have considered a February primary.

And this week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer set her sights on an early primary for her state, too. And in Emily Schultheis' reporting on the matter, the scary part isn't that Brewer wants a Jan. 31 primary -- it's the phrase "potentially even December 2011."

And this is everyone's worst fear. In states like New Hampshire, there are actually laws that compel the state to stay at the front of the line. Every time one of the herd-states tries to finagle their way to January, the traditional early states threaten to go even earlier. Moreover, those same early states start lobbying for sanctions -- punishments typically range from denying delegates privileges or convention floor passes, or stripping delegates altogether. Back in March, South Carolina GOP Chair Karen Floyd floated the direst possible punishment for Florida -- stripping the state of its status as host of the Republican National Convention.

Amid all of this uncertainty, discontent, and sniping, what's an RNC to do? For the moment, they've decided to do nothing:

The Republican National Committee has rejected a plan to force tougher sanctions on states that jump ahead in the presidential primary calendar.

The measure could have stripped VIP passes and desirable hotel accommodations from states like Arizona and Florida, which are considering late January primary elections. That's a violation of RNC rules, and some Republicans say it would cause chaos in the early voting process.

But the RNC Rules Committee voted at its summer meeting Thursday to postpone action on new sanctions, which came recommended by another panel, until next year.

So, despite what we learned from the debt ceiling debate, sometimes Republicans do cave in the face of hostage taking and punt on making tough decisions, too.

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