Thursday, February 2, 2023

Bill to Move Pennsylvania Presidential Primary to March Introduced

Earlier this week legislation was filed in the Pennsylvania state Senate to push the presidential primary in the commonwealth up five weeks to the third Tuesday in March.

Senator David G. Argall (R-29th, Shuylkill) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors -- five other Republicans and four Democrats -- introduced SB 224. The measure would shift the presidential primary as well as those for other offices held in even years away from what has been a traditional position for the Keystone state on the primary calendar in the post-reform era. Only once -- in 2000 -- has Pennsylvania conducted a primary on a date other than the fourth Tuesday in April. [The pandemic forced the primary into June in 2020, but it was initially planned in that traditional position at the end of April.] 

The change would not only shift the Pennsylvania presidential primary out of that typical calendar spot, but would take it out of a mid-Atlantic/northeastern regional primary that has existed in various forms since 2012. That would entail leaving a later position behind where Pennsylvania has tended to be the most delegate-rich prize available to a date already occupied by Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. March 19 may be earlier, but clear gains from the move are less apparent. On the one hand, voters in the commonwealth would have a higher probability in March rather than April of voting in a contest that has not yet been decided. However, on the other, it would mean sharing the spotlight with other delegate-rich states, one of which -- Florida -- is home to one Republican already in the presidential race (Trump) and another (DeSantis) rumored to join it at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Nevertheless, this bill is now out there, and unlike other similar legislation in previous cycles, this one has both a longer list of sponsors and a bipartisan one. That may help push it through the state Senate. Of course, similar legislation unanimously passed the body in early 2020 (pre-pandemic). The state House may prove an obstacle in 2023 as well, but at least two members have signaled that a bill similar to this one is on the horizon there.

This legislation has been added to FHQ's updated 2024 presidential primary calendar



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