Monday, May 6, 2019

Committee Hearing Finds Both DC Parties in Favor of a Presidential Primary Move

At a meeting last week of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, the Washington, DC Council heard a discussion on the proposed shift of the presidential primary date in the district.

Both DC Republican Committee executive director, Patrick Mara, and DC Democratic State Committee chair, Charles Wilson, spoke in favor of pushing the district's primary up two weeks to the first Tuesday in June and both for the same reason. Where the DC primary is scheduled now -- a position it was moved to in 2017 -- it falls too late on the calendar under the rules of both the Democratic and Republican National Committees. Each party would face penalties reducing the size of already small delegations to the respective national conventions in 2020. The DC Republican Party position was simple enough: pick a date, any date between the first Tuesday in March and the second Saturday in June in order for the Republicans in the district to avoid paying for their own party-run and limited process (as the party did in 2016).

Wilson, however, brought up the more robust discussion the DC Democrats had back in early March. At that party meeting, the committee considered not only the June 2 date, but also an April 28 alignment with other regional partners in the Acela primary. The issue with the latter that was raised both at that meeting and in the context of the Council hearing last week was that the window for petition gathering would encompass holiday season at the end of December. While that may not be as large an issue for Democratic presidential candidates, it would potentially harm the efforts of local candidates vying for a spot on the consolidated primary ballot.

It was that snag that kept District Democrats from latching onto the April 28 position, despite the 25 percent bonus (10 percent for an April primary and 15 percent for clustering the contest with two or more regional partners) the party would receive for conducting a primary on that date. Splitting the presidential and district primaries was a non-starter in the committee hearing because of the attendant costs associated with funding an additional election.

June 2, then, looks like the date that threads the needle of bipartisan support, national party rules compliance, cost effectiveness and is candidate/campaign friendly. And for Democrats in the District, not all is lost. The bonus associated with a June 2 primary is 20 percent, an additional two DC delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

7/19/19: Earlier June Presidential Primary Move Inches Forward in DC

4/5/19: DC Council Eyes Earlier Primary with New Bill

2/7/19: DC Presidential Primary on the Move Again?

5/15/18:  Washington, DC Eases Back a Week on the Calendar

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