Thursday, March 14, 2019

Washington Presidential Primary Shifts Up to March 10 After Inslee Adds Signature

Presidential candidate and Washington governor, Jay Inslee (D) signed SB 5273 into law on Thursday afternoon, March 14, moving the presidential primary in the Evergreen state from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March.

The shift gives the governor a glimmer of something positive after Super Tuesday should he make it that far in the currently wide open race.

That said, there is some question as to whether Washington Democrats will ultimately opt for the newly timed primary or for the caucus/convention format the party has used throughout the post-reform era. While the primary law changes the date of the primary, it also alters the operation of the mail-in vote contest. Primary voters will now have to check a box on the Democratic ballot publicly affirming they are Democrats in order to have their ballots counted toward the vote that will determine delegate allocation to the national convention. That was the price Washington had to pay to bring their process (in a state with no partisan registration) in line with the national party rules.

The Washington State Democratic Party will make that primary or caucus determination at its April 7 state central committee meeting. The primary would be on March 10 and the caucuses on March 21. The month of delegate allocation is known, then, but the exact date remains on hold until April.

Washington becomes the first state to have legislation pass and be signed into law moving its primary during the 2019 state legislative session, but follows states like California and North Carolina that moved prior to this year for the 2020 cycle.

The Washington primary change has been added to the 2020 FHQ Presidential Primary Calendar.

Washington State Legislation Would Again Try to Move Presidential Primary to March

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