Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ohio Secretary of State Supports May Presidential Primary

Last month FHQ looked at the efforts by the Ohio General Assembly to position the Buckeye state's presidential primary in 2012. Omnibus elections legislation passed the House to shift the contest back from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May, but the Senate version conflicted with the House-passed version. One of those differences was the date of the presidential primary. The Senate bill -- now in the House -- would keep the primary in March.

Indeed, the move to May is something that has been on the radar since the the beginning of the legislative session in January when Secretary of State John Husted (R) raised the possibility that the redistricting process could hamper the 2012 presidential primary in the state. Husted, at that time however, did not come down on one side or the other of the primary timing discussion. As the legislature's focus begins to shift from the budget to the redistricting process, though, his position has hardened in support of moving the contest to May. The primary impetus behind the shift is to allow elections administrators the opportunity to prepare for elections given the changing congressional and state legislative districts.

But lost in the discussion is the fact that Ohio Republicans have typically used some form of winner-take-all delegate allocation and with a March primary date the party would be susceptible to sanctions from the RNC should they not shift to proportional allocation as called for by the Republican delegate selection rules. A May date would help the state party avoid that issue. A change in the allocation of the at-large delegates based on the statewide results would also accomplish that, however.

Regardless, it appears as if there is support for the May primary date in the one place it had not been earlier, the Senate. The House bill with the May primary date provision is on the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee agenda both today and tomorrow and could be reported to the full Senate as a result. According to Secretary Husted, there is support in the Senate for the change.

No comments: