The Campaign Spot

A Closed Primary, Coming to Rhode Island?

Rhode Island’s Republican Party may be ahead of the curve, moving to make their primaries closed; that is, open to Republican voters only.

The state’s Secretary of State is contending that it violates Rhode Island law, but the Supreme Court has held in the past that parties are private groups and can control the rules of selecting their candidates. There’s particular concern about cross-over voters in this state: “The state’s primary rules became an issue in 2006 when the conservative [Steve] Laffey lost the primary to Lincoln Chafee, a moderate, who urged Democratic supporters to drop their party affiliation to vote for him in the Republican primary.”

(In other Rhode Island news, I’m now hearing Laffey is leaning against another run.)

While anything could happen, President Obama is not likely to face a serious primary challenger in 2012, so there will be a lot of Democrats tempted to play mischief in the GOP presidential primary, voting for the least-competitive or least-appealing candidate. State GOP organizations would be wise to embrace the philosophy that if you want to select a party’s nominee, you ought to be a member of that party…

(Note I oppose “Operation Chaos”-style efforts…)

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