Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Pennsylvania House Bill Would Move Presidential Primary from April to March

A group of five Republicans led by Rep. Keith Greiner (R-43rd, Lancaster) has introduced legislation to shift the Pennsylvania general primary, including the presidential primary, to the third Tuesday in March

HB 51 would take the consolidated primary that has been on the fourth Tuesday of April for every cycle of the post-reform era but one (2000) and move the contest up five weeks. Functionally, this measure accomplishes exactly the same change as a bill introduced earlier this session in the state Senate. The same presidential primary move from April to March is called for in both, but the Senate version contains a second section that specifies that this change is to take place for the 2024 cycle. That section is mostly superfluous because the next section sets the effective date of the legislation for 60 days after it is signed. Only in the event that the House version 1) becomes the sole vehicle for this change and 2) if it carries over to the 2024 session would the legislation not take effect for this upcoming cycle. 

All in all, this is a minor distinction that only becomes meaningful if the legislature does not act on one bill or the other early enough in 2023. But there are now active bills to accomplish the same presidential primary date change in both chambers with bipartisan support. The Senate version has a bipartisan group of sponsors and while the Senate list of co-sponsors does not include any Democrats, two House Democrats have already expressed support for such a shift

The odds, then, are higher than they have been in most Pennsylvania legislative sessions that this will be the cycle the presidential primary date changes. Similar legislation failed in 2019 and 2022.

Pennsylvania would join four other states -- Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio -- already set to conduct March 19 presidential primaries in 2024. 

This legislation has been added to FHQ's updated 2024 presidential primary calendar


See more on our political/electoral consulting venture at FHQ Strategies. 

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