But not everyone is backloading. This week, then, we'll have a few more installments in this series detailing state legislative action on this front. There is actually additional legislation in both the Illinois and New Jersey legislatures that would shift their presidential primaries in 2012 and beyond to later dates. Also, there is a bill before the New Hampshire General Court -- the Granite state's legislature -- that tweaks the language of the state's presidential primary law to further protect the its first-in-the-nation status. Finally, there is also a bill being considered in the Oregon legislature to move the Beaver state's presidential primary (and all other primaries for state and local offices) to the first week in February.
And that's where we'll start.
Oregon has done this before. In 1996, the Beaver state shifted its presidential primary into March (from May) and ended up aligned with the remnants of the 1988 Southern Super Tuesday and more importantly two weeks ahead California (which had also already moved that cycle). That did not prove a good mood since most of the GOP candidates' attention was focused on the nearly contiguous group of southern states. In 2000, then, Oregon opted to save money (I'll have to track down the data I have on this from the Oregon Secretary of State's office. Off the top of my head the state saved $3 million by backloading in 2000.). What's curious is that the state's voters approved the statewide mail-in ballot system in 1998, so it could have been done more cheaply in 2000 as a result.
Oregon also unsuccessfully attempted to jump on the 2008 Super Tuesday bandwagon in 2007. Here's what I wrote in the late summer of 2007:
Oregon:In 2007 the bill was introduced in the House at the request of Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. In 2009, though, the action has originated in the State Senate from the Republican minority. This isn't a surprise since typically changes of this type take place within the party outside of the White House. Again, the bill (SB 412) would shift the Oregon primaries for all offices to the first Tuesday in February in any presidential election year. And thus far Oregon is the only state other than North Carolina to propose moving ahead (Indiana doesn't count here, yet.). On top of that, the Beaver state is moving all the other primary elections forward.
Since Oregon's legislature adjourned for the year on June 28 and no action was taken since April on the one bill (HB 2084) which would have moved Oregon's 2008 presidential primary to February 5, the state appears destined to hold it primary toward the end of the process (on May 20).
That is the other, law-based layer to the frontloading calculus: move just the presidential primary or move everything (States like California, Maryland and Texas have insisted on this in the past: having every primary at once.). In 2008, then, to take two examples from this current crop of states looking to move for 2012, Arkansas split its primaries and moved the new presidential primary forward, whereas Illinois opted to move everything up to February 5. Arkansas has since repealed the presidential primary, moving the contest back to May in 2012. Illinois, where winter weather-related drags on turnout in February are problematic, has also discussed moving back with a caveat. [I'll revisit Illinois in another post.] Oregon, then, is taking the Illinois approach in 2008 approach. [North Carolina, for instance, is proposing the Arkansas approach in reverse.]
Well, the proposed approach is like Illinois' in 2008. The bill was introduced during the first week in February and was immediately referred to the Senate Rules Committee where it has been couped up since that time. Again, the proposal is a Republican one in a Democratic-controlled legislature (and a Democratic governor to boot). The likelihood of this getting out of committee, then, is lower because of the partisan implications involved. The legislature will adjourn until 2011 (barring a special session next year) no later than June 30. So there is a time constraint here as well.
Next: Back to New Jersey
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