Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prominent Utah Legislators Don't Appear to Have a Desire to Appropriate Money for a Presidential Primary

Both the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune have followed up on the report that the Romney campaign is working to move the Beehive state's presidential primary up from its current late June date. Good local sources that they both are, they have dug a little deeper into the story. If the Utah presidential primary is to be moved a separate election will have to be funded ($2.5-3 million) and the date in the state's election law will have to be changed. The latter is more of a formality, but state legislators -- those who will actually have to make the changes -- have so far balked at the idea of spending up to an additional $3 million that Utah does not necessarily have.

While there is support among at least one legislator, both the president of the state Senate and the speaker of the state House were lukewarm to the idea of appropriating additional funds for a separate presidential primary earlier on the calendar. Via the Deseret News:
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said she wasn't convinced an earlier primary is a good idea — or even one that lawmakers will be asked to consider.

"I've only heard rumors about it at this point, so I'm not even sure how serious it is," Lockhart said. "No one's made a request."

"There was not a big appetite because of the money," Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said. "We didn't think based on what happened before, it would have much of an impact."

Waddoups, a Romney supporter, said an early primary still isn't worth the money in what looks to be another tight budget year. "Where would they get it? Unless revenues are up, all the money's been spent."

Additionally, via the Salt Lake Tribune:
Senate President Michael Waddoups said Monday that he doesn’t see the point in spending the money to move the primary up. “I think you’d have quite a bit of convincing to do,” he said.
“We’re still balancing budgets,” said House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, a Huntsman supporter. “If these operatives for people who want to represent the beltway suggest we’re to spend $3 million to have two primaries within a couple months, that’s a ‘nice-to-have,’ that’s not a ‘have-to-have,’ and we’re still in have-to-have mode in our budgets.”
As I said, there is support for the idea, but members of the both the state Senate and House leadership are openly resistant to paying for the contest.

...at least initially. If the money can be found, it may open the door to the primary moving.

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