Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the Move Again? 2012 Arkansas Primary

What? Already?

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Yes, already. In our earlier Arkansas discussion, FHQ described the particulars behind the second bill (SB 253) that proposed moving the primaries in the Natural State -- all the primaries -- to August. From back in early February, I had this to say:
"...the May primary for state legislative positions will occur within a couple of weeks of the end of the one of the legislative sessions. That leaves only a small window of time for incumbents to campaign for the election. On top of that, legislators have traditionally eschewed fundraising (due to a self-imposed rule) activities during sessions and for 30 days before and after them. That obviously encompasses the primaries in this case and poses a problem for state legislative incumbents."
The amendment process had the bill in and out of the Senate committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs and first changed the language to meet the changes (repealing the presidential primary and moving back in line with other primaries) signed into law before moving the proposed primary date back to the first week in June. This latter change was no doubt instituted because of the national party rules that cut the nomination phase of the presidential election off during the first couple of weeks of June. That also gets state legislators closer to their goal of having 30 days in between the end of the legislative session and a primary election. There may be a couple of days lost, but that gets incumbents closer to their self-imposed rule and within the national party guidelines for delegate selection.

And those amendment changes seem likely to be pushed through. The bill just yesterday emerged from the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee with a "Do Pass" authorization (see bill link above for a detailed look at the list of actions SB 253 has been through). Committees in both chambers granted HB 1021 (the original bill to repeal the presidential primary and move it back to May) the same authorization before it was passed and signed into law.

So buckle up folks. Arkansas may not be done backloading for 2012 and beyond yet.

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Jack said...

The self-imposed rule (I applaud you for hyphenating it, unlike your source) doesn't seem to be a problem; unless it's written into state law there's no reason they can't just say it's now impractical and disregard it. The other problems are probably a bigger issue.

Anonymous said...

Rule may not be the best word for it. I think legislators just want to be done with the session so they can campaign. At that level (state legislative), face time is the name of the and you can't shake hands and kiss babies in your district if you're stuck in the state capital.