Friday, April 5, 2019

DC Council Eyes Earlier Primary with New Bill

Last week the Democratic Party in Washington, DC released for public comment its draft delegate selection plan for 2020. However, one of the details missing from the document was a date for the planned presidential primary in the district. That is all the more unusual because the primary date set in district statute.

But there are at least a couple of catches with the third Tuesday in June date outlined in the law. First, that date is too late in the calendar and thus non-compliant under national party rules. The district party would face penalties from both national parties if it chose to allocate delegates through a primary scheduled so close to the convention. Alternatively, it might force one or both major parties in the district to shift to a caucus/convention as DC Republicans did for 2016.

What has also given DC Democrats pause in filling in the primary date in the delegate selection plan is that there is some uncertainty about where on the calendar the primary will land. Yes, the date is currently set, but the DC Council is considering a change. Only, the change is not nearly as dramatic as some of the Democratic members of the Council were speculating about during a February meeting of the DC Democratic Party district central committee. Back then there was talk of aligning the DC presidential primary with the primaries in Maryland and Pennsylvania at the end of April.

Now, however, there has been a bill introduced in the DC Council to move the primary, but not into April. Instead, the plan laid out in B23-0212 is to nudge the DC primary up to the first Tuesday in June in presidential years (leaving the primary in midterm years to remain on the third Tuesday in June). This is a modest shift but it would be enough to move the DC presidential primary back into compliance with the national party rules.

One footnote to add to the predicament in which the DC parties and Council find themselves, is that if this shift is successful it would represent the second change to the DC primary schedule since 2017. The Council made the decision in 2018 to move the primary from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June. In other words, one step back was needed to move two steps forward.

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

2/7/19: DC Presidential Primary on the Move Again?

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

The Washington, DC presidential primary bill has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

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