Thursday, February 7, 2019

DC Presidential Primary on the Move Again?

To say that primary scheduling in Washington, DC has been chaotic in the 21st century is perhaps an understatement.

It is an understatement because the District has not had a primary date carry over from one cycle to the next since it used the first Tuesday in May position in both 1996 and 2000. That's right. In every year since the year 2000, the District of Columbia has had a different primary date than the previous cycle each time.
2000: first Tuesday in May
2004: second Tuesday in January (non-compliant with national party rules)
2008: second Tuesday in February
2012: first Tuesday in April
2016: second Tuesday in June
2020 (tentative pending any future changes): third Tuesday in June
That is a lot of movement. And add to that the fact that in 2012 the council in DC passed legislation that ultimately became law to consolidate the primary election for other offices in the district with the presidential primary. If there was a regular rhythm to the nomination processes in the capital before the turn of the century, it was a steady May date for the presidential primary and a September date for all other offices.

What is the regular rhythm of the 21st century?

Either there is no rhythm, or it is that the dates change every cycle.

And now officials in Washington are again considering a change to move the primary from June to April where it may once again coincide with contests in the mid-Atlantic/northeast. Those concurrent regional primaries involving DC happened with the Potomac Primary in 2008, alongside Maryland and Virginia, and with Delaware and Maryland in 2012.

And the arguments for are the same as is typical in other states:
At a meeting Thursday, the D.C. Democratic State Committee will consider whether to recommend moving up the District’s primary from June 16 to April 28, or some other early spring date. 
“If you want to be competitive in the democratic process, you need to be early up,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents the District on the Democratic National Committee.
Earlier is better. 

Of course in the case of the Washington, DC primary, earlier is compliant. After moving the primary back a week to the third Tuesday in June during its 2017 session to accommodate school schedules in the district, the primary fell out of compliance with both parties 2020 rules. The primary is too late and would potential open the parties in the District to penalties from the national parties. A move, then, would be necessary unless petitioning for a waiver was successful.

But first the council in DC will likely take up legislation to move the primary. Democrats in the District took up the idea at their state committee meeting, but tabled it until March. A recommendation from DC Democrats will likely prompt some action on the council.

7/19/19: Earlier June Presidential Primary Move Inches Forward in DC

5/6/19: Committee Hearing Finds Both DC Parties in Favor of a Presidential Primary Move

4/5/19: DC Council Eyes Earlier Primary with New Bill

5/15/18:  Washington, DC Eases Back a Week on the Calendar

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