Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Clock is Ticking on States to Change 2012 Primary Dates: Delaware

This is Part Two in a series of posts examining early and non-compliant 2012 primary states and why they have not acted to move their presidential primaries to be timed in accordance with national party rules on delegate selection. See Part One (Connecticut) here.

  • Current Primary Date: February 7, 2012
  • Legislature Convened: January 11, 2011
  • Deadline to Introduce Legislation: none
  • Legislature Adjourns: June 30, 2011
The story: Fortunately the legislative process in Delaware is less convoluted than in Connecticut, and that has implications for the ease and/or speed with which the legislature in the First state can alter the date of its presidential primary. The main difference between the two northeastern/Atlantic states is that Delaware does not have in place a deadline by which legislation must be introduced. Comparatively, then, legislators in Delaware are not quite as pressured by time to file legislation as in Connecticut. And while that may be the case, action will need to be taken in a reasonably timely manner to ensure that any bill has enough time to work its way through both houses of the legislature before the session adjourns on June 30.

Delaware was among the few February primary states during the 2008 cycle that had moved to that point on the calendar in the previous cycle. Looking back at the history of that bill (SB 54), it was presumably introduced -- it isn't clear -- and referred to committee on April 1, 2003 and quickly worked its way through the state Senate before passing the House and being signed into law in June. That legislators in Delaware have not acted to move the presidential primary back into compliance with party rules in 2011 (something the bill in 2003 accomplished also1) is a reflection of the time in which they have to maneuver mostly. Legislators in 2003 had not acted at this point in the 2004 cycle either.

Clock is ticking rating: Low. Legislators in Delaware still have time to introduce and pass a bill to move the presidential primary to a later point on the calendar in 2012; time that other states like Virginia or Utah didn't have or don't have. Like Connecticut, Delaware is also a state with unified Democratic control. That may or may not have an effect on the speed with which the Democratic majority is operating, but with an uncontested nomination race on the Democratic side, the urgency is not there as it might be in Republican-controlled states. One can detect the potential for an interactive effect at work combining party control in state legislatures and length (or timing) of session. Again, Democratic legislators in Delaware as in Connecticut will eventually have to act so as to avoid the added penalties that may come from the Democratic Party for not moving into compliance when having control of the legislative means to do so (Rule 20.C.7 of the 2012 Democratic Delegate Selection Rules).

1Delaware had scheduled its 2000 presidential primary for the Saturday following New Hampshire and the 2003 bill removed that anchor and set the date for the primary as the first Tuesday in February.

Up next: Utah.

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