Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Maryland Joins States Pushing Back Presidential Primaries on the Calendar

Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) on Tuesday, March 17 issued a proclamation that among other things postponed the presidential primary in the Old Line state, shifting the date from April 28 back five weeks to June 2. It will be the latest a presidential primary has been conducted in Maryland in the post-reform era and the latest a Maryland presidential primary has been held since before the state joined Super Tuesday for the 1988 cycle.

Hogan's decision throws Maryland into a growing number of states acting in response to the budding coronavirus threat. Five states now including Maryland -- Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio -- have moved in recent days to delay their presidential primaries, shifting back anywhere from 35 to 77 days to avoid the window in which voters may be hunkered down at home in an effort to not spread the virus.

Unlike Kentucky and Louisiana, however, the decision in Maryland avoided running afoul of the national party rules on the timing of primaries and caucuses. While those two contests are technically too late according to those rules, the Maryland primary will fall on the last big day on which contests will be held, June 2, a week before the window closes under Democratic Party rules.

The change in the Old Line state will have some impact on the delegate selection process, but it will be pretty minimal. District delegate candidates are listed and directly elected on the primary ballot. That process, then, will move with the primary. Fortunately, Maryland is not one of the states where a quorum of district delegates is responsible for selecting at-large and PLEO delegates. Instead, it is the state central committee of the Maryland Democratic Party that makes those decisions.

However, that selection is set to take place on May 30, the weekend before the new date of the presidential primary. That leaves the state party with some options. The state party will forge ahead and select slates of at-large and PLEO delegate candidates for each remaining candidate on May 30 and fill any allocated slots after the primary. Alternatively, the party could shift back a week -- or some time after the new primary date -- and select those statewide delegates with the result of the primary in mind. Either way, this is a question that Maryland Democrats will have to answer in the coming days in the lead up to the June primary. But with no caucus/convention process to select delegates, Maryland Democrats emerge from this change with a limited number of process questions.

Maryland proclamation postponing the presidential primary there is archived here.

Related Posts:
Maryland Board of Elections Will Recommend an All Vote-By-Mail Presidential Primary for June 2

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