NH Journal reports from the RNC State Chairmen’s Meeting
The agenda didn’t include any major initiatives but the mood was positive at the RNC State Chairmen’s Meeting in Dallas, TX this week, where the heads of each GOP state committee gathered, many – including NHGOP Chairman Jack Kimball – meeting their counterparts for the first time.
There was, however, a white elephant in the room: the Florida Republican Party, which has currently broken RNC rules and jumped ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire in the presidential selection process. New Hampshire is currently slated to have its traditional early primary on February 14, but NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner will also break Party rules to protect the First in the Nation Primary if Florida does not get back in line.
Newly elected RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has indicated that he will enforce the rules but has yet to publicly criticize Florida. As a result, talk is surfacing from other states threatening to move their dates up if Florida doesn’t pass legislation setting their date in late February or early March. Tensions will most certainly rise among the early states as the legislative session in Florida wears on without action.
The meeting featured inspiring speeches from Governors Haley Barbour (MS), Rick Perry (TX), and Susana Martinez (NM) illustrating a heavy focus on state issues, but the lack of interest or appearances from any Republican Congressional leaders did raise some eyebrows.
This was the first RNC meeting under Preibus’ leadership, and the renewed sense of optimism among RNC members was palpable. Priebus’ staff picks have been widely lauded as top notch, led by respected Chief of Staff Jeff Larsen and Political Director Rick Wiley.
And what of the debt that was racked up by the drunken sailors of the Steele Administration over the last several years? The RNC Finance Department has been retooled and is running on all cylinders, indicating that they expect the debt to be wiped out soon.
One somewhat contentious issue within the Executive Committee was how to handle the $6 million in enhancements required to update the RNC’s all-important voter file system, Voter Vault, when the Committee is focused on eliminating their debt.
It appears as though the solution will be to set up the voter file in an outside trust comprised of individual RNC members where outside groups will pay for the enhancements and thusly be granted unlimited access to the list. This is a serious departure from the traditional practice of keeping the invaluable data within the four walls of the RNC building, but most believe it is the best way to pay for the enhancements and build strong partners heading into the 2012 presidential election cycle.
Most of the presidential talk around the bar centered on when or if Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would announce his candidacy. The only campaign representative in attendance was Rich Beeson, Mitt Romney’s new Political Director. Beeson has many friends on the Committee and was looking to make new ones. He was shooting fish in a barrel with no competition in the room.
The RNC next meets in Tampa, FL in August. Expect more fireworks at this meeting with presidential candidates fighting for Member endorsements and Members fighting about the lack of discipline from Florida and others who refuse to abide by the presidential nominating calendar laid out by the RNC.