Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Bill Introduced to Eliminate Separate Presidential Primary in New Jersey

Superfluous though it may be, a new bill to eliminate the February presidential primary and shift it back to occur concurrently with the June primaries for state and local offices has been introduced in the New Jersey Assembly. The only things different about this bill and the two technically-active current bills are that the new one (A3777) was introduced by a Democrat and during the 2011 session. Other than that, the bill is exactly like the two bills proposed last year by Republicans in the Assembly and Senate.

That a Democrat introduced the bill is important considering both houses of the New Jersey legislature are controlled by the Democratic Party. That it was introduced by deputy speaker, John Wisnieski, is indicative of at least some institutional support for such a move among Democrats (similar to what has been seen in Maryland and Tennessee). And unless the Republicans who proposed similar bills in 2010 have changed their tunes, there is some bipartisan support for the idea of one June primary to nominate candidates for national, state and local offices. Like California, some of the impetus behind the push has to be budgetary. Similar separate presidential primary elections have come under fire in the Golden state and was eliminated in 2009 in Arkansas.

As state legislatures continue their sessions and to deal with budgetary constraints, separate presidential primaries could increasingly be targeted as a means of cutting costs. To this point, however, momentum behind that idea is limited to a handful of states.

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