Showing posts with label 2023 state legislative session. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2023 state legislative session. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Michigan Senate Passes February Presidential Primary Bill

After being introduced two weeks ago, SB 13 -- the legislation to shift the Michigan presidential primary to the fourth Tuesday in February -- sat awaiting placement on the Michigan state Senate calendar for consideration on the floor by the full body.

Thursday was that day. 

This bill is a vehicle for a change in the scheduling of the presidential primary in the Great Lakes state that aligns it with the newly adopted 2024 calendar proposal by national Democrats. The new Democratic majority in the Michigan Senate supported the measure. 

Republicans in the chamber did not. 

Senator Jim Rundestad (R-23rd), the lone dissenting vote from similar (Republican-sponsored) legislation in December, urged senators again to vote no. "Colleagues, join me in voting no on this big Gretch 2024 bill," he said, referring to the possibility of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024. Senator Edward McBroom (R-38th) was equally blunt: "When is the last time Michigan picked a winner in the primary? We pick losers. Been doing it for a while."

However, considering a version of this bill was passed by the Republican-controlled state Senate at the conclusion of the 2021-22 session, there were a number of members who voted for the February primary move before they voted against it. All 18 Republicans stood against SB 13.

All 20 Democrats, however, moved the legislation forward, pushing it into the state House where the lower chamber is already consider its version of the (exact same) legislation.

The vote today along with the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee noting in its meeting last night that Michigan had "completed their waiver requirements to our (DNCRBC) satisfaction," should quiet for now some of the local Michigan stories about the state potentially not meeting the February 1 DNC deadline.


Companion Super Tuesday Bill Introduced in Hawaii House

Another bill to establish a presidential primary in Hawaii and schedule it for Super Tuesday in 2024 has been introduced in the state House in the Aloha state. 

Speaker of the House, Rep. Scott Saiki (D-25th, Ala Moana), filed HB 1444, legislation with the same language as SB 1005. That this bill has the backing of the speaker says something about how seriously the legislature is likely approaching legislation to shift from caucuses to using a primary for allocating national convention delegates in the presidential nomination process. It is not a sure thing, in other words, but has more robust support than the similar efforts in 2018.

But again, Hawaii is small enough, Democratic enough and far enough away from the mainland that it will be difficult to garner much attention from presidential candidates anyway. But even lost in a sea of more delegate-rich contests on Super Tuesday, a primary there would at least insure that more Hawaiians from both major parties have the opportunity to weigh in with their presidential preferences before the race is (likely to be) effectively over in a May position. Depending on how these two bills progress (and another proposing a May primary), however, these are the sorts of ideas that the Hawaii legislature will consider when scrutinizing these two bills. 

This legislation has been added to the updated 2024 presidential primary calendar

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Legislation to Alter Electoral Vote Allocation Introduced in Nebraska

Nebraska shifted away from a winner-take-all allocation of electoral college votes for the 1992 cycle and efforts have been continually mounted ever since to return to that method. None of them have been successful, including legislation from the 2021 legislative session that died in committee. 

But that has not stopped another bill from coming forward in 2023. Senator Loren Lippincott (34th, Central City) has become the latest to attempt to tackle the issue following a cycle in which the Cornhusker state again split its electoral college allocation between Democratic and Republican slates. LB 764 strikes all language from current law that references any distinction between at-large and congressional district electors. It further compels electors -- all five of them -- to cast their electoral votes for the presidential and vice presidential candidates with the highest number of votes statewide.

In eight presidential election cycles since the institution of the congressional district allocation, Nebraska electors have split just twice with the second congressional district around Omaha going for the Democratic candidate in 2008 and again in 2020. That frequency has been enough of an issue for similar legislation to have come up now at least six times, but not enough of a problem for the state to move back to a winner-take-all allocation. 

Perhaps 2023 will be different. LB 764 awaits action in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Hawaii Senate Bill Proposes Super Tuesday Presidential Primary

The Hawaii state legislature gaveled in just last week, but already there is movement on establishing a presidential primary in the lone state with unified Democratic control without one. 

The political parties of the Aloha state have traditionally utilized a caucus/convention system for allocating and selecting delegates to the national conventions. But that began to change in 2020 when Hawaii Democrats shifted to a party-run primary and things look to incrementally progress even further during the 2024 cycle. Last week, new legislation was introduced in the Hawaii state House to establish a presidential primary in May and conduct a feasibility study to best optimize such a shift (presumably in subsequent cycles). 

Now, senators in the upper chamber are presenting their own presidential primary proposal. A trio of Democrats, Senator Karl Rhoads (D-13th, Dowsett Highlands), Senator Stanley Chang (D-9th, Hawai'i Kai) and Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D-5th, Wailuku), have filed SB 1005. It scraps the feasibility study of the House bill and creates a presidential primary scheduled for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. In most cycles, that would fall on Super Tuesday. It would also potentially stand a better chance of luring Hawaii Republicans into using the primary (not to mention supporting the bill). On Super Tuesday, the proposed state-run presidential primary would better align with where Republicans in the Aloha state have recently held the initial precinct caucuses, the second Tuesday in March. 

Hawaii is small enough, Democratic enough and far enough away from the mainland that it will be difficult to garner much attention from presidential candidates anyway. But even lost in a sea of more delegate-rich contests on Super Tuesday, a primary there would at least insure that Hawaiians from both major parties have the opportunity to weigh in with their presidential preferences before the race is (likely to be) effectively over in a May position. Depending on how these two bills progress, however, these are the sorts of ideas that the Hawaii legislature will consider when scrutinizing these two bills. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Alternative Bill Would Schedule New York Presidential Primary for April

An alternative proposal for scheduling the 2024 presidential primary has been introduced in the New York state Assembly. 

Rather than merge the presidential primary in late June with the primaries for other state offices, A 1720, offered by Assemblyman Andy Goodell (R-150th, Jamestown), would keep the two sets of primaries distinct. The new legislation would push the primaries for state office to the second Tuesday in August, consolidating them with the congressional primaries. The presidential primary, on the other hand, would shift into a position that has become customary for New York in recent cycles, the fourth Tuesday in April. With the exception of the 2016 cycle, the presidential primary in the Empire state has ended up, or was before the pandemic, initially planned for the fourth Tuesday in April as part of a contiguous group of contests for the last three cycles.1 

Like the other legislation, A 1720 would reduce the number of primaries in New York in presidential years from three to two. But unlike the other proposal, Goodell's consolidates two sets of primaries that can go a little later in the electoral cycle, the congressional primary and those for state offices. Moreover, the presidential primary is scheduled for April, a point on the calendar that is within the national party rules-defined window. The other active legislation this session would place the New York presidential primary in late June, out of compliance with the rules. 

Again, the regular protocol in New York over the last several cycles has been for the state parties to consult with legislators and devise legislation later in the spring (of the year prior to the presidential election) that outlines not only the date of the presidential primary but how delegates will be allocated in both parties' processes. One of the three bills introduced thus far in 2023 may or may not ultimately be a vehicle for legislation that fits in with the previous pattern. But only this most recent bill is compliant with national party rules in its introduced form. 

Note: Goodell sponsored similar legislation during the 2021-22 session. That legislation died in committee at the conclusion of 2022.

This legislation has been added to the updated 2024 presidential primary calendar

1 And in 2016, the New York presidential primary was just a week earlier on April 19, a date on which it was the only contest. No, that is not a significantly different position on the calendar, but the primary was not a part of the northeastern/mid-Atlantic regional primary that developed in 2012 and has been a part of every calendar since.


Friday, January 20, 2023

New Hampshire Senate Moves to Further Protect First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary with Constitutional Amendment

In a move to further legally enshrine the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary, the New Hampshire state Senate has introduced a concurrent resolution to create a constitutional amendment.

The end goal of CACR 9 is to take the language of the existing statute -- "the secretary of state shall ensure that the presidential primary election be held seven or more days immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election" -- and elevate it to being a part of the Granite state's constitution. All 14 Senate Republicans and one Democratic representative have signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution.

This all makes perfect sense. There is little more actors in New Hampshire state government can do to protect the status the presidential primary in the Granite state. To a person, each elected official in the state already leans heavily on the current state law in any dispute with other states or most recently with national parties when they arise. A constitutional amendment provides a bit more symbolic heft, but in the grand scheme of things, state amendments can be overturned by federal courts just as state laws can be. As such, this exercise is one that is intended to give a New Hampshire audience the reassurance that something is being done to further buttress the state's first-in-the-nation status in the face of a recent threat. 

But the interesting thing about this proposed amendment is that the question of the first-in-the-nation protection would have to go before the voters of New Hampshire and the matter would not appear on the ballot until the November 2024 general election. 

The proposed Yes/No question to be on the ballot:
“Are you in favor of amending the second part of the constitution by inserting after article 68 a new article to read as follows: 
[Art.] 68-a [Presidential Primary Elections.] The secretary of state shall ensure that the presidential primary election be held seven or more days immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election.”
That this measure is being held until the November 2024 general election -- a presidential election year -- as opposed to some off-year election or primary, maximizes turnout. But that could be viewed as something of a gamble. There is, no doubt, majority support in New Hampshire for keeping the presidential primary first in the order under state law (or state constitution). One would assume that anyway. 

However, for this measure to ultimately be written into the New Hampshire constitution, it would not just have to attain a bare majority of support, it would have to hit a supermajority of two-thirds.1 Maybe that is a shoo-in. Or perhaps, after a prolonged battle over the primary's position with the Democratic National Committee, waged across two calendar years, enough of the electorate in the Granite state in November 2024 has had enough and opts "No," keeping the protection out of the constitution.

Alternatively, voters could be looking to not only punish President Biden, should he be the Democrats' standard bearer in 2024, for the calendar shake up but further protect the primary. That is definitely closer to where the New Hampshire legislators behind this measure see this going. And honestly, it is probably closer to where this would truly end up. But we do not know that for sure this far out from the 2024 election and with a host of other actions likely to take place between now and then. 

This legislation has been added to the updated 2024 presidential primary calendar

1 To be clear, this is a two-thirds majority of those voters who fill in an answer to the first-in-the-nation ballot question and not two-thirds of all voters who cast a ballot in November 2024. There may be some ballot roll-off from, say, the presidential line at the top of the ballot to the constitutional amendment further down. 


Hawaii Bill Would Establish a Presidential Primary

The Hawaii state legislature convened earlier this week for its 2023 session and wasted little time in prefiling legislation to create a presidential primary in the Aloha state. 

Rep. John Mizuno (D-29th, Kamehameha Heights) sponsored HB 342 which would establish a presidential primary in Hawaii for the first time and schedule it for the second Saturday in May. Additionally the measure calls for the chief elections officer, the chairperson of the Hawaii Elections Commission, to conduct a feasibility study to ascertain among other things how other states have made the transition from caucuses to a primary system of allocating national convention delegates. 

This current legislation echoes a pair of bills that were active and failed during the 2018 session. It is not clear how much the sentiment has changed if at all among Aloha state legislators in the intervening years. However, Hawaii is one of the last caucus states in the Democratic presidential nomination process and the only fully Democratic-controlled state without a state-run presidential primary option for 2024. Hawaii Democrats did hold a party-run presidential primary in 2020, an April contest that shifted to an all-mail process once the Covid-19 pandemic hit. 

The intent of the attendant feasibility study is understandable, but the timeline for change overall is less apparent. There is, for example, no deadline by which the study is to be completed. This suggests that the presidential primary may be established for the 2024 cycle on the second Saturday in May and that the study would recommend changes -- date, process for accommodating a Democratic primary and Republican caucuses, etc. -- for the 2028 cycle and beyond. Otherwise, it would potentially be a quick turnaround to conduct the feasibility study, report it back to the legislature and have the state House and Senate make any tweaks to the newly established primary for 2024 before the Hawaii legislative session wraps up its business in May. 

Granted, the legislative process will also have something to say about whether, how and in what state this bill becomes law in 2023.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

State House Companion Bill Would Also Push Michigan Presidential Primary to February 27

The recently introduced state Senate bill to move the Michigan presidential primary to the fourth Tuesday in February now has a companion in the state House. 

Rep. Noah Arbit (D-20th, West Bloomfield) and 24 Democratic co-sponsors filed HB 4029, a duplicate of the Senate legislation, on Wednesday. Like the Senate bill, this legislation would also shift the Michigan presidential primary into a position on February 27 that is in line with the calendar proposal adopted by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) in December. 

A key procedural difference on the House side is that HB 4029 was referred to the Elections Committee. That seems to indicate a more normal legislative process ahead. The state Senate took a seemingly more streamlined path in skipping the committee referral for its version of the legislation and immediately pushing it to consideration by the Committee on the Whole. Regardless, both chambers will need to quickly consider the move and pass it on to Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) for her signature in order to meet the DNCRBC-imposed February 1 deadline.

Notably also, there were no Republican co-sponsors of the legislation. But due to legislative rules in Michigan, Republicans are more necessary on the Senate side of this process than in the House where Democrats hold a one seat majority. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Assembly Companion Introduced to Consolidate New York Primaries in June

As has been the case in past cycles, an Assembly companion -- A 1109 -- to a state Senate bill to consolidate the New York presidential primary with primaries for other offices in June has now been introduced.

Objectively, the idea remains a good one. New York has asked a lot of its voters in recent cycles, separating presidential primaries from primaries for state and local offices and splitting those from primaries for congressional seats. Reducing that burden on voters is not an idea without merit. 

However, where this legislation falls short -- and where its predecessors in previous sessions have failed -- is that it schedules the proposed consolidated primary too late in the presidential nomination sequence. The timing is off. Both state parties would be penalized under national party just as rogue states that attempt to hold primaries or caucuses too early are.

There are, of course, fixes to this. One is to move the other primaries -- and the perpetually reset February presidential primary -- to where the presidential primary has ended up in the last three cycles: late April. Another is to meet somewhere in the middle. Schedule the proposed consolidated primary (including the presidential primary) in May some time.

But as is, this bill is a non-starter and will likely end up where the others did in previous sessions. Nowhere, without amendment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

West Virginia Bill Would Move Presidential Primary to February

In every presidential nomination cycle there comes a first; a first state legislative bill to potentially challenge the national party rules. 

And in 2023, that is West Virginia bill SB 218. Sen. Mike Oliveria (R-13th, Monongalia) introduced the legislation late last week to establish a separate presidential primary election in the Mountain state and schedule it for the second Tuesday in February. Typically, the West Virginia presidential primary has been held concurrent with primaries for state and local offices on the second Tuesday in May, and for that latter group of primaries, they still would be. But under this legislation, the presidential primary would be split off from the rest and shifted to a point three months earlier. 

Clearly that is a move that would come with some costs. To this point, there is no fiscal statement accompanying the legislation, but it would add the operating costs for a separate election to the state budget. Now, that may be offset to some extent by the potential candidate and media attention an earlier primary might bring to West Virginia. That is a spot on the 2024 presidential primary calendar that is smack-dab in the middle of the pre-window period. Only the Georgia primary would be on February 13 to compete, but that is only if national Democrats can figure out a way to get it there

Granted, that is where the catch in all of this comes into play. While there may be financial costs to the move (and potential offsets), the fact remains that the biggest cost may be the penalties associated with pushing an unsanctioned primary into the early, reserved area of the calendar. On the Republican side, West Virginia Republicans would see their national convention delegation reduced to just nine delegates. Democrats would strip the state's Democratic delegation of half its delegates at the least and all of the delegates won for any candidates who campaign there. 

Those are not lax penalties. Yet, one can make sense of the move. For starters, that is an area of the calendar that may be able to be exploited. Unless Nevada Republicans opt out of the newly established presidential primary scheduled for February 6 and go later, then the period after February 6 and before Super Tuesday on the first Tuesday in March is wide open on the Republican presidential primary calendar. Candidates may find it hard to resist the opportunity, even with only nine delegates on the line. 

And perhaps the Republican delegate penalty is not that severe. As a state with likely just over 30 delegates for 2024, West Virginia is on the low end of the super penalty scale, losing roughly three of every five delegates in their national convention delegation. A 60 percent penalty may be a bitter pill to swallow for Republicans in a ruby red state, but one Republicans in the state may be able to stomach. West Virginia is not like, say, Michigan, where a timing violation would subject the state's Republicans to a nearly 80 percent reduction. 

Keep in mind also that there are no candidate penalties on the Republican side. The potential for a win that early on in the calendar when there may be no other events around may be enough to lure a gaggle of candidates into the state to discuss West Virginia-specific issues. It is a gamble, but one that should not be readily dismissed.

Historically, West Virginia has held down that second Tuesday in May date for its presidential primary. It only strayed from that point twice, holding June primaries in both 1980 and 1984. Mountain state Republicans partially opted out of the 2008 presidential primary, allocating 18 at-large delegates during a Super Tuesday convention. Only the remaining 12 congressional district delegates were directly elected on the May primary ballot. There was also an effort to repeat the 2008 convention strategy in 2012, but it went nowhere. A short-lived push to move the West Virginia primary to Super Tuesday in 2011 met a similar fate.

Whether this current effort follows a similar path remains to be seen. But West Virginia may be able to thread the needle better on this than some larger states could. That is not nothing.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Post-2022 Partisan Control of State Government and 2024 Presidential Primary Movement

What if anything do the 2022 midterm results mean for primary movement on the 2024 presidential primary calendar

Part of that question was actually answered back in August when the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) finalized all of the delegate selection rules for the 2024 cycle except one section. That exception? The pre-window calendar rules and exemptions. And why did the panel wait? They pushed pause on finalizing the early calendar because the midterms were going to be determinative in just how ambitious Democrats could be in reworking the calendar. A Republican surge would have meant something more like the status quo would have prevailed while a Democratic hold or gains would have given the DNCRBC a bit more latitude in changing things. 

The results ended up closer to the latter and Democrats swung big in booting Iowa and (effectively) New Hampshire from the pre-window in the adopted calendar proposal for 2024. 

That has largely been the story thus far for 2024 primary movement, prospective or otherwise. And that is unusual. It is atypical for a party currently occupying the White House to tinker with its delegate selection rules, especially when the incumbent president is signaling a run for reelection. Very simply, incumbent presidents of the post-reform era have made a habit of demonstrating that they like the rules that got them to the nomination in the first place and have tended to carry them over for the most part to their reelection cycle. 

That has not been the case with the Biden administration of the DNCRBC following the 2022 midterms. Instead of the focus being on Republican-controlled states angling to better position their primaries and caucuses for a competitive nomination cycle, the spotlight has been on two states tabbed to be a part of the new Democratic pre-window lineup. Two states where Democrats did not gain sufficient state legislative or gubernatorial seats to change the tide. That is, the talk has been about Georgia and New Hampshire not moving because Republicans in both state governments stand in the way. 

But the DNC calendar rules are not finalized yet and will not be until the February winter meeting at the earliest. Georgia and New Hampshire will continue to be stories in the process, but may force Democrats to look elsewhere to states that may be better able to implement changes. Given the national party's preference for state-run contests, any changes to move additional states' contests around will occur in state legislatures across the country. 

The other side of this, of course, is that Republicans did not flip control of any state legislative chambers in 2022. And the only gubernatorial seat the GOP gained was in Nevada, where Democrats retained control of the legislature (and the primary is already early on the calendar). As a component of possible primary movement, the lack of a typical out-party surge in the midterms did not portend pronounced primary movement. 

Another significant component is that Republicans are still dealing with the fallout of the primary movement from the 2012 cycle. As a quick primer on 2012, one has to go back to the 2004 cycle when Democrats aligned their calendar rules with those of the Republicans. Both parties allowed February contests for the first time then. While that set off some movement toward the new early, most states did not catch on to the rules change and act until the 2008 cycle. But that rush to the front of the queue was marked not just by states trying to shift to the earliest date allowed by the two major parties -- the first Tuesday in February -- but by a handful risking penalties to go beyond that point, threatening the positions of the earliest states exempted from national party rules. That pushed Iowa and New Hampshire to the brink of conducting contests in 2007, something that decision makers in neither national party seemed to prefer. 

And that influenced the calendar rules for 2012. The parties informally brokered a later start to primary season, nixing February as the earliest point during which non-exempt states could hold contests. Both parties nudged that starting time back to the first Tuesday in March for the 2012 cycle. But that left nearly 20 states in the lurch. All had February or early contests on the books. And all 20 needed to change state laws in order to come back into compliance with the new national party rules.

That change set off a flurry of activity on the state level in 2011. But there was a pattern to it. With an active Republican presidential nomination race on the horizon, the Republican-controlled states among that 20 tended to move back but less so. They mostly ended up in March. Democratic-controlled states, on the other hand, pushed even further back on the calendar with less at stake. 

And that is the legacy of 2012. The March start point for most states is still there in the national party rules and so are most of the Republican states. Some of the Democratic ones have even come back. That is not to say that there are not Republican-controlled states later in the calendar. There are. But there just is not a lot of movement that can happen at this point. Not movement forward anyway. 

In the end, there will be primary movement for 2024. Some has already happened prior to 2023. But the point here is to hone in on just how much movement can happen. Some can, but this is neither 2008 nor 2012. The changes on the Democratic side will likely push at least Iowa and New Hampshire into January and bring Michigan at a minimum into the pre-window. Other than that, however, there may be some incremental changes to comply with the new national Republican rules that will affect the end of the calendar. Unified Republican control in Montana and South Dakota ought to make those changes easier. 

The 2022 midterm elections saw relative stability across the board, and the lack of change there will affect how much the calendar is able to change in 2023. So far the outlook suggests limited tweaks. But it is still early.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Legislative Odds and Ends from New Hampshire with 2024 Implications

There is obviously a long way to go but the first two weeks of the 2023 session in the closely divided state legislature in Concord have already produced some interesting bills. And it is legislation that would have some impact on 2024 in the state that traditionally holds the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Two in particular -- one from each side of the aisle -- have been introduced in the early going. 

1. Provable, positive steps from New Hampshire Democrats
FHQ has done a lot of talking about actions taken or not taken by New Hampshire Democrats in the time since the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) adopted a 2024 primary calendar proposal that would push the presidential primary in the Granite state back in the order for the upcoming cycle. But earlier in the week, I discussed the opportunities that New Hampshire Democrats may have to extricate themselves from the predicament in which the party finds itself. Taking those actions -- making provable, positive steps toward the goals set by the DNCRBC to retain their early calendar status -- might not keep the party from being penalized, but it might lessen the penalties. 

Legislation was offered last week by one Democrat that falls into that category. Rep. Barry Faulkner (D-10th, Cheshire) introduced HB 586 which would expand absentee voting access in the Granite state. Now, while it does not go as far as the sort of "no excuse" absentee voting that was voted down in the state Senate in 2021 (SB 47), the measure would expand the list of excuses to receive an absentee ballot to include health and safety concerns (beyond disability) and a "lack of convenient and affordable transportation." Clearly, that is a provable, positive step that moves toward the DNCRBC mandate for an early calendar waiver. But it ultimately would likely fall short and does nothing to change the date of the presidential primary, the heavier lift for New Hampshire Democrats.

That is not nothing, but it likely would not be enough in the eyes of those on the DNCRBC who will serve as final arbiters on the New Hampshire primary situation. 

2. A potential own goal by Granite state Republicans
On the Republican side, Rep. Mike Moffett (R-4th, Merrimack) and Rep. Joseph Guthrie (R-15th, Rockingham) introduced HB 101, legislation that would close primaries in New Hampshire to only those who affiliate with a political party. This is an age-old, intra-party question pitting pragmatists against purists that waxes and wanes over time but has surged in recent years during both the Tea Party and MAGA eras. While the phenomenon is not exclusive to the Republican Party, that has been where purists have pushed most often and most forcefully for closed primaries. 

But closing off primary participation would go against the grain in New Hampshire. The tradition of independents voting in primaries for offices up and down the ballot is storied, but has been part and parcel of the presidential primary process in the state for decades. However, this legislation does not just break with tradition in the Granite state, it comes at a particularly inopportune time. With state Democrats embroiled in a fight with their national party over the first-in-the-nation status of the New Hampshire presidential primary, Republicans in the state would be passing up a prime opportunity to potentially more easily woo independent voters in the 2024 presidential primary with the general election and the state's four electoral votes in mind. 

To close the presidential primary to only registered Republicans would be political malpractice in that light. 

Look, neither of these bills are likely to go anywhere. If the fate of the bill in the 2021 session is any guide, then Republicans in the state House are likely to balk at any expanded absentee voting measure (even a scaled down one). And although there may be some Republican support for closing primaries in the Granite state, it likely will fall short of unifying the caucus behind a bill that would essentially have the party cut off its nose to spite its face. Still, this is the sort of legislative wrangling that happens not just in Concord but in state legislatures across the country. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Bill Introduced in Michigan Senate to Move Presidential Primary to February 27

A day after the 2023 legislative session opened in Michigan, legislation has been introduced in the state Senate to move the presidential primary from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February. 

Senator Jeremy Moss (D-7th, Southfield) filed SB 13, a short bill with the simple objective to move the Michigan presidential primary into compliance with the newly adopted DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee calendar proposal for the 2024 cycle. Importantly, the rules were suspended and the bill was moved directly to the Committee on the Whole for consideration. This, no doubt, was a move to expedite the bill's passage. Part of Michigan being conditionally granted a waiver to hold a nominating contest in the DNC pre-window period was to have completed all action on a primary move by February 1. 

While that is an official deadline as part of the waiver for the Michigan primary, Democrats in the state are unlikely to be penalized if the legislature is making progress on the bill after the end of January. Michigan Democrats will not lose their pre-window spot if provable, positive steps are being made (and it is just a matter of when not if the bill will ultimately become law. 

Nevertheless, a bill to move the presidential primary in the Great Lakes state is now active and should move relatively quickly through the Democratic-controlled legislature. 

Identical Third Bill Would Reestablish Missouri's Presidential Primary

There may or may not be enough support across both the Missouri state House and Senate to pass legislation to bring back the presidential primary in the Show-Me state, but there are now three separate and identical bills that seek to do that. 

Rep. Eric Woods (D-18th, Kansas City) this week introduced HB 738 which contains the same, exact language as two bills pre-filed last month by Republicans Rep. Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway (R-115th, Jefferson) and Rep. Rudy Veit (R-59th, Cole). None of the three bills has co-sponsors at this time. 

The Missouri presidential primary was stricken from the state code as part of an election omnibus bill that was signed into law in 2022. More on the history of that move here.

This legislation has been added to the updated 2024 presidential primary calendar

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Legislation is on the way to move Pennsylvania presidential primary up

Word broke on Tuesday that legislation is forthcoming in Pennsylvania to shift the presidential primary in the Keystone state up to the third Tuesday in March for the 2024 cycle. 

State House Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-181th, Philadelphia) and Rep. Jared G. Solomon (D-202nd, Philadelphia) said in a statement:
Pennsylvania has been a pivotal battleground state and will be again in 2024. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s presidential primary is the fourth Tuesday in April, long after many states have voted for a presidential nominee. This makes our commonwealth one of the last states in the nation to weigh in despite being a crucial swing state. Our voters should have more influence in selecting the most qualified presidential nominee for each party.

In the near future, we will introduce legislation to adjust our petition circulation schedule and move Pennsylvania’s next presidential primary date up by one month to the third Tuesday in March, making our next presidential primary date March 19th, 2024

This will increase Pennsylvania’s importance in future presidential primary elections, giving our residents increased national political weight in line with our state's size and importance. With an earlier primary, Pennsylvania voters will represent the 'keystone' needed for each candidate to win their party's nomination in 2024 and beyond.
A bill has yet to be filed, but this revives an effort that has been unsuccessful over the last two legislative sessions. It would push the Pennsylvania primary up to a spot on the calendar it would share with Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, making March 19 an even more delegate-rich date on the calendar. And while the move would bring the presidential primary in the commonwealth up into a potentially more competitive position in March, it would mean abandoning a slot where the Pennsylvania primary is the clear biggest prize on April 23, the fourth Tuesday in April.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

A Super Tuesday Presidential Primary in Oregon?

If at first you don't succeed...

What did not work in 2019 and a revamped version of which also failed in 2021 will be back up for consideration in Salem in 2023. At stake is an earlier Oregon presidential primary. Senator Suzanne Weber (R-16th, Tillamook) has filed SB 499 to move the consolidated primary -- including the presidential primary -- from May all the way up to the first Tuesday in March, Super Tuesday, in presidential election years. 

Only once in the post-reform era has the Beaver state shifted away from its mid-May primary date. For 1996, the Oregon legislature established a late March presidential primary distinct from the third Tuesday in May primaries for state and local offices. More recent efforts, including SB 499, have all attempted to avoid legislation that would have the state incur the costs of a new and entirely separate election to accommodate the timing of the presidential nomination process while leaving everything else in May. 

The question is, is the 2024 cycle any different? 

When the Oregon legislature officially convenes next week, the Senate will begin considering a move of the primaries anew. Where moving consolidated primaries meet snags with legislators is when those primaries -- typically their own -- conflict state legislative sessions. Asking for campaign contributions during a legislative session is something that is frowned upon in those states across the country that do not have full-time legislatures. This move would bring the Oregon primaries closer to but not necessarily overlap with the short session that Oregon gavels in every even-numbered year. However, it would also make the general election campaign for those legislators (and everyone else being nominated at the time) longer and more expensive. 

That cost may not affect the state's budgetary bottom line, but it carries external costs to other actors involved at which decision makers may balk.

But the shift to March would bring Oregon in line with all of its bordering neighbors, all of whom have March or earlier contests

A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.