Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Christie Signals Support for June Primary in New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he’s inclined to move New Jersey’s 2012 presidential primary to June to save money and avoid penalties such as losing delegates.

New Jersey law says the primary will be held Feb.7, 2012, but that would violate new national party rules designed to prevent the chaos of the 2008 primary season, when states were competing for prominence by pushing their dates earlier and earlier.

“My inclination would be to say, listen these rules are so kind of screwy now about how we’re going to pick delegates … that I don’t know whether it’s enough value for New Jersey to move up,” Christie said in response to a question at a town hall in Cape May. “We’re going to have election in June anyway, especially in 2012 because we have a United States senate race at the top of the ticket.”

Christie said he’d have to get an agreement from the Democrats who hold the majority in both houses of the Legislature to change the law. He already has an unlikely ally in Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the state Democratic Party Chairman, who has submitted a bill to consolidate all primaries June. A Republican senator and an assemblyman are also sponsoring similar bills.

This is the first inkling of movement from New Jersey since the bill (A3777) cited above was introduced in February. The two Republican bills (S71 and A757) mentioned have been in committee since being introduced in February 2010. Like California, the savings from consolidating the two sets of primaries are being touted by proponents, but the underlying partisan implications are potentially important as well. That Republican Assemblymembers in California (There was unanimous bipartisan support for the bill moving the California primary back to June in the vote on Monday.) and the Republican governor of New Jersey are willing to set partisan concerns aside is indicative.

The savings are being valued over giving voters in the two states -- Republican voters especially -- a meaningful voice in the nomination process. Of course, Democrats with power over date-setting in more Democratic states are gambling that early and more conservative states will produce a conservative nominee that will not fare as well against President Obama while some Republicans in those same states are not resisting in the hopes that the nomination has yet to be determined by the time the process gets to what would be two primaries (California and New Jersey) at the tail end of the primary calendar.

And perhaps it should be mentioned that this is the clearest indication yet that Chris Christie will not run for the Republican nomination. Taking away a potentially early burst of delegates from your home state -- something favorite sons have benefited from to varying degrees of success in the past -- is no way to manage a presidential run.

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