Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Washington State House Passes March Presidential Primary Bill

In a roughly party-line vote, the Washington state House on Monday passed legislation to move the presidential primary in the Evergreen state from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March.

SB 5273 passed the House by a 54-42 vote that saw just one Democrat from the chamber majority join House Republicans. This Democrats-for/Republicans-against pattern mirrored not only the vote at the committee stage in the House, but also the previous floor vote in Senate.

And the battle lines were the same. Republicans more sympathetic to Secretary of State Kim Wyman's (R) bill balked at the Democratic version throughout the legislative process for barring unaffiliated voters from participating in the primary and for making public which ballot voters choose. In fact, several Republican-sponsored amendments were raised on the House floor to reverse both changes to the primary law. One struck much of the language from the Senate-passed Democratic version of the bill and insert provisions from a Republican version left languishing in committee in both the state House and Senate. Two others were more narrow in scope, attempting to remove the data-gathering portion and allowing unaffiliated voters to participate through a separate mail ballot. A final Republican amendment took a different tack. It simply pushed the conflict items aside and addressed the primary date change alone.

None passed muster with a majority of the House, clearing the way for an up-or-down vote on the bill that came out of committee.

Since the version that passed the House is identical the Senate-passed version, the bill is done in the legislative branch and now heads off to Governor Jay Inslee (D) for his consideration.

And the governor may now have at least some interest in an earlier Washington primary (even if it follows Super Tuesday by a week).

Washington State Legislation Would Again Try to Move Presidential Primary to March

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