Monday, March 18, 2019

Oregon Senate Bill Would Create Separate Super Tuesday Presidential Primary

Already this 2019 legislative session two bills have been introduced in the Oregon state House to position the Beaver state primary on the second Tuesday in March, a point on the calendar that would coincide with contests in neighboring Idaho and Washington. However, both bills have languished in committee since January.

In the meantime on the state Senate side of the capitol, a Republican-introduced bill would create a separate presidential primary and schedule it on the first Tuesday in March, Super Tuesday. And that bill -- SB 779 -- has had its initial public hearing where Rules Committee senators discussed some of the trade-offs involved in such a move. Obviously, creating a separate presidential primary bears some costs. Not only would the change require an extra appropriation, but it would additionally carry some costs relative to the second primary for state and local offices (still on the third Tuesday in May). There was, however, some question raised about just how much turnout would suffer given that the state of Oregon is a vote by mail state. Another point that was raised by those representing county clerks in the Beaver state was that they would be responsible for three elections in the span of about six months: the November 2019 general election, the proposed March presidential primary and the regular May primary. Filing for the March presidential would begin during the certification process attendant to the general election and continue through the holidays.

It is noteworthy that this last problem would not really be that much different for elections administrators if either of the two Democratic-introduced bills were to pass the state House. The late fall time constraints would remain, but there would not be a third election that would follow the presidential primary. Under the two House bills, the presidential primary would remain consolidated with the primaries for state and local office and everything would move into March. That said, the sponsor of one of the House bills -- HB 2107 -- Representative Brian Clem (D-21st, Salem), is the House co-sponsor of this Senate legislation as well alongside Senator Tim Knopp (R-27th, Bend).

The Senate Rules Committee did not act on SB 779, but it has cleared the public hearing hurdle whereas competing legislation in the House has yet to reach that stage despite being proposed earlier. All of the bills would pair Oregon with regional partners: California and likely Utah on March 3 or Idaho and Washington on March 10.

1/11/19: Pair of Oregon Bills Would Move Primary to March, but with a Twist

The Oregon legislation will be added to the evolving FHQ 2020 Presidential Primary Calendar.

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