Saturday, February 16, 2019

Amendment to Arkansas Bill Eyes March for Presidential Primary Move

New Hampshire can rest easy again.

Yes, the Iowa Democrats released their draft delegate selection plan this week, and the new process was seemingly distinct enough to avoid any future "similar contest" designation from Secretary of State Gardner. But the Granite state also lost a potential threat in Arkansas this past week as well.

Legislation introduced last week in the Natural state would have scheduled the Arkansas primary for the second Tuesday in February, the date tentatively reserved by the national parties for the New Hampshire primary. No, the threat was not much of a threat to the first-in-the-nation status New Hampshire has enjoyed. Secretary Gardner, after all, could easily move the primary in the Granite state to an earlier date in response. But with an amendment to that Arkansas legislation (SB 276), both New Hampshire's status and tentative position on the calendar are in the clear. And Arkansas would, if the amended bill passes and is signed into law, avoid any national party penalties as well.

The amendment shifts the proposed preferential primary date -- the initial round in Arkansas -- to the first Tuesday in March with the general primary -- the runoff round for other offices -- following four weeks later. This reverses the sequence that has been established in Arkansas law for years; that the runoff is set first and the initial round is set some set number of weeks before that general primary. It is a counterintuitive set up, but one that is more natural under the proposed amendment.

Although the bill was twice on the agenda of the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee in the Arkansas state Senate for an initial hearing this past week, it was bumped down the list both times. Part of that was to allow for the amendment to be added before the bill was heard. Now amended, the new version is now on the committee agenda for the coming week.

The question then becomes whether Arkansas will join other states on Super Tuesday.

2/6/19: Out of Arkansas, An Apparent Challenge to the New Hampshire Primary

2/11/19: Arkansas Lawmaker Signals a Scaling Back of Presidential Primary Legislation

3/1/19: New March Presidential Primary Bill Flies Through Arkansas Senate Committee

3/9/19: Arkansas Senate Makes Quick Work of March Presidential Primary Bill

3/13/19: Arkansas House Committee Advances March Presidential Primary Bill

3/19/19: On to the Governor: Super Tuesday Bill Passes Arkansas House

3/25/19: Arkansas Presidential Primary to Super Tuesday

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