Monday, January 31, 2011

DC to Move Back? Up?

Early indications from the Council of the District of Columbia are that a bill will be introduced to move the district's primary to early July 2012. No, not the presidential primary necessarily, but the primaries for other local and district-wide offices. There has been some push by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics to hold the presidential primary concurrently with the other primaries -- more than likely as a cost-saving measure like what California and New Jersey are attempting to do.

The problem with a July presidential primary is that it falls outside of the party-designated window in which primaries and caucuses can be held. Either the two sets of primaries will continue to be held separately or the two will be held together but slightly earlier so as to fall inside the window. And while the presidential primary may remain separate from the other primaries, the move to July (from the traditional September timing) is fairly significant. It would keep DC in line with the federally-passed MOVE act.

Regardless, this July timing is seen as a starting point.

[It should also be noted that DC held its 2008 presidential primary in conjunction with Maryland and Virginia on February 12, the week after Super Tuesday. Virginia has three bills proposed in its state legislature to move the commonwealth's primary back to March and Maryland has yet to act, though there has been some talk about when the 2012 primary will be held.]

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Matt Seyfang said...

If they want to hold a primary in July, they should be given a waiver. First convention isn't until the end of August; the timing here wouldn't be out of line with past years when the window ended in June and conventions were held in August.

With conventions being held much later than in years past, it might be time to open up the possibility of extending the window through June into early July. If I recall correctly, the 1968 NY primary was in mid or late June.

Josh Putnam said...

This is a good point, Matt. The dates the conventions are held on has slid back closer to election day, but the back end of the window has not been moved any. It isn't taking the parties any longer to get the delegate situation settled prior to the convention.

Now, as to whether DC will get a waiver, I suppose we'll have to wait and see if they pursue this bill. They likely will, but the eventual date is something of a moving target, I gather.

And who is to say that the primaries for district-wide and local offices can't be held in March or whenever the presidential primary is? [Probably those officials holding the offices. Still, it is an open question.]