Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New York Assembly Bill Introduced to Set Presidential Primary for April 26

On Monday, June 15, legislation was introduced in the New York Assembly to schedule the presidential primary in the Empire state for April 26.

Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-63rd, Staten Island) filed A8256 to push the New York presidential primary back to where it was during the 2012 cycle; the fourth Tuesday in April. The legislation passed in 2011 to move New York back into compliance with the national party rules was passed with a sunset provision that expired at the end of 2012. The current legislation contains a similar provision that expires after the 2016 elections.

Now, it should be noted that this bill was proposed by a Democrat in the Democratic-controlled chamber of the New York state legislature. However, it the language in the bill indicates Republican Party buy-in. The fingerprints are there anyway. The delegate selection rules that the New York Republican Party voted on last week are included as well as procedure for the 2016 presidential primary process in the state. That is, the bill lays out a winner-take-most plan (where a candidate can receive all of the at-large/statewide or congressional district delegates if that candidate wins each of those political units).

Given that time is running short on the New York legislature -- as was the case four years ago -- this bill would bot have come forth if it did not have sufficient support on both sides of the capitol building. The move in 2011 also came up in June and quickly moved through the legislature and to the governor's desk.

UPDATE (3pm): An April 26 date would align the New York presidential primary with presidential primaries in neighboring Connecticut and Rhode Island. If Pennsylvania maintains its position (also on April 26), it would bridge those three contests with primaries in Delaware and Maryland on the same date (along with the primary in the Keystone state). All would be eligible for timing and clustering bonus delegates under the Democratic National Committee delegate selection rules.

New York Republicans would not benefit from similar national party incentives. The late date also does not come anywhere close to the March 1 target date some within the New York Republican Party were aiming for earlier this year. Unlike the Texas reversion to its March 1 position, New York essentially standing pat -- assuming A8256 (or any of the other similar bills cited below) becomes law -- means that its large cache of delegates will continue to be toward the end of the process. With California set for a June primary, both will serve as delegate weights drawing out the calendar; keeping that 75% delegates allocated mark in late April rather than earlier (with earlier New York and/or California primaries).

UPDATE (4:30pm): There are four other bills -- in both the Assembly and Senate -- that also propose moving the presidential primary to an April date. The aforementioned A8256 has no pair in the Senate. However, A8251, also introduced by Assemblyman Cusick, has an identical bill, S5960 that has been proposed by Senator Rich Funke (R-55th, Rochester). All of those bills call for an April 26 New York presidential primary. Senator Funke also filed S5958 and S5962. The former outlines the details for an April 19 primary while the latter schedules the election for April 26 like the others. The two that are companion bills across chambers likely have the inside track toward quick passage, but A8256 was a late add to the Assembly Election Law Committee agenda for today.

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