Tuesday, January 10, 2023

A Super Tuesday Presidential Primary in Oregon?

If at first you don't succeed...

What did not work in 2019 and a revamped version of which also failed in 2021 will be back up for consideration in Salem in 2023. At stake is an earlier Oregon presidential primary. Senator Suzanne Weber (R-16th, Tillamook) has filed SB 499 to move the consolidated primary -- including the presidential primary -- from May all the way up to the first Tuesday in March, Super Tuesday, in presidential election years. 

Only once in the post-reform era has the Beaver state shifted away from its mid-May primary date. For 1996, the Oregon legislature established a late March presidential primary distinct from the third Tuesday in May primaries for state and local offices. More recent efforts, including SB 499, have all attempted to avoid legislation that would have the state incur the costs of a new and entirely separate election to accommodate the timing of the presidential nomination process while leaving everything else in May. 

The question is, is the 2024 cycle any different? 

When the Oregon legislature officially convenes next week, the Senate will begin considering a move of the primaries anew. Where moving consolidated primaries meet snags with legislators is when those primaries -- typically their own -- conflict state legislative sessions. Asking for campaign contributions during a legislative session is something that is frowned upon in those states across the country that do not have full-time legislatures. This move would bring the Oregon primaries closer to but not necessarily overlap with the short session that Oregon gavels in every even-numbered year. However, it would also make the general election campaign for those legislators (and everyone else being nominated at the time) longer and more expensive. 

That cost may not affect the state's budgetary bottom line, but it carries external costs to other actors involved at which decision makers may balk.

But the shift to March would bring Oregon in line with all of its bordering neighbors, all of whom have March or earlier contests

A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

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