Friday, May 3, 2019

Puerto Rico Democrats Further Signal a Primary Move to March

The Puerto Rico Democratic Party wrapped up the public comment period for its draft of their 2020 delegate selection plan on April 30.

The draft plan looks a lot like the plan used in 2016. And that is largely a function of the fact that the election is a government-run primary. Any changes come through the legislature on the island territory.  But while this plan looks at first glance like the 2016 plan, there are a number of mentions of possible changes.

One is the date of the contest. In one footnote to the first Sunday in June date called for, the plan adds:
However, the Governor has announced he plans to submit amendments to the Compulsory Presidential Primaries Act that include, among other things, moving the date for the Democratic presidential primary to the second Sunday of March of the year in which the presidential elections are held. This could move forward the primary for March 8, 2020. If the law is amended, the DPPR would accordingly file an amended Delegate Selection Plan.
This is nothing new. News of a potential Puerto Rico presidential primary move broke in February. But the fact that this appears in the delegate selection plan confirms the idea that the primary may align with the Republican primary in early March. The legislation now sets the Republican contest for the first Sunday in March unless it conflicts with national party rules. And a March 1 date would fall before the first Tuesday in March, making any contest -- Democratic or Republican -- non-compliant with those rules.

Another area of potential change via legislation comes based on the changes to Rule 2 in the Democratic Party delegate selection rules. The changes there have shifted an additional responsibility on state parties to demonstrate steps taken to broaden participation. There is reference in the Puerto Rico plan of legislation to potentially extend early voting to all voters for any reason; a no excuse system.

But again, like the date of the presidential primary, those changes would have to be passed by the Legislative Assembly in Puerto Rico. And additionally, that action would ostensibly have to occur prior to the assembly's recess beginning on July 1 and running through August 11. But while that is during the period of DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee review of state delegate selection plans, the acts of legislatures operate outside of the national party's purview.

As of now the Puerto Rico Democratic presidential primary will remain on June 7 on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

2/28/19: Puerto Rico Democrats Eye March Presidential Primary Shift

Hat tip to Luiso Joy for bringing the Puerto Rico plan to FHQ's attention.

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