Thursday, March 19, 2020

June 2 Presidential Primary Date Grows with Addition of Connecticut

Connecticut state officials including Governor Ned Lamont (D) and Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) on Thursday, March 19 opted to push back the primary in the Nutmeg state to June 2.

Like Maryland two days earlier, the Connecticut presidential primary moves back five weeks from April 28 and joins a group of states with enough delegates at stake to now become the second-most delegate-rich state on the 2020 presidential primary calendar. For a state that first started conducting presidential primaries -- rather than caucuses -- in 1980, this is the latest Connecticut will have conducted a primary in the post-reform era. A Connecticut primary was never later than March until after the 2008 cycle, when the primary was shifted to the late April position it had occupied from 2012-2020 until today.

In moving the primary, Connecticut becomes the latest state to respond to the rise of the coronavirus threat by delaying its presidential primary. That number has now expanded to six -- Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio -- and is likely to increase further in the coming days.

And like the other states, the change will have some effect on not only the timing of the delegate allocation from Connecticut but also the delegate selection process there. Connecticut Democrats are one of the few states that select district delegates in district caucuses organized by the campaigns themselves. That is a burden on campaigns in normal circumstances much less when the primary date is moving around. Those campaigns-organized district caucuses were to have taken place on May 27, nearly a month after the initial primary date, April 28. But with a June 2 primary, that may create an obstacle for the state party: move ahead with the delegate selection at that time and select slates of delegate candidates to fill any allocated slots won during the June 2 primary or delay that selection of district delegates until after the primary.

The statewide delegates will present fewer problems. PLEO and at-large delegates are scheduled to be selected by the state party committee -- and not any state convention or quorum of district delegates -- on June 10. That is a late enough point of selection to fall after the new early June primary date. And June 10 may also serve as a reasonable point on the delegate selection calendar to which to shift the district caucuses to select district delegates.

Regardless, the June 2 date not only keeps Connecticut in compliance with national party rules, but it allows the party some latitude in how to reformulate the delegate selection process.

The new Connecticut presidential primary date has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

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