Monday, March 19, 2018

Bill to Move Nebraska Presidential Primary to March Shelved

Similar to a 2016 push, legislation to establish a separate presidential primary has stalled in the Nebraska legislature. Same sponsor, same intent, same opposition.

Senator John Murante (49th, Gretna) introduced legislation -- LB 1032 -- to create a new statewide presidential primary election, severe it from the consolidated May primary, and shift the new election into March. The 2018 legislation is basically the same as the bill from 2016, but rather than move the new election to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, the 2018 version would schedule the primary for the second Tuesday in March.

In a late February hearing on the bill in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, Murante, via the Lincoln Journal Star, argued for an earlier Nebraska role in the nomination process:
"Trump won Indiana and Cruz withdrew from the race and that ended Nebraska's opportunity to have a voice," Murante said. 
An early presidential primary election would provide that opportunity, he said.
The reasoning for the move is the same as it was two years ago even before Nebraskans had cast their 2016 primary votes. It was additionally a goal of the sponsor to entice Nebraska Democrats -- already with an earlier caucus -- to opt into the earlier primary with the potential for increased participation.

However, the reasoning against was similarly as consistent in 2018 as it was in 2016. The costs of primaries in the Cornhusker state are laid on the shoulders of the counties, and county officials in the committee hearing again balked at the $1.6 million price tag.

State actors often have the willingness to make these moves to earlier dates, but do not always have an ability to bring such a change to fruition. Often the ability portion of the equation -- especially when it is lacking -- comes down to the hit such a move would have on the budget. If the costs are too high, a primary stays where it is.

LB 1032 according to the Journal Star failed to gain priority and will see no further legislative action in 2018. Most primary moves occur in the year before the presidential primary.

More: 2020 Presidential Primary Calendar

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