UPDATE (2/27/11): Legislation is now in committee in Massachusetts to move both the presidential primary (from March) and the primaries for state and local offices (from September) to June.
One issue that continues to be raised as the 2012 presidential primary calendar evolves is one of budgetary constraints at the state level. This has manifest itself in a few ways and has become problematic in more and more states across the country as state governments wrestle over budget outlays for the coming year(s).
In Kansas and Washington, the talks have revolved around eliminating the presidential primary and shifting the cost of nominating candidates to the state parties; state parties that would, in turn, typically opt for caucuses as a means of nominating candidates over primaries. Still other states are looking at the possibility moving their separate presidential primaries to dates that coincide with later primaries for state and local offices. Some states are better able than others to pull this cost saving maneuver off. California and New Jersey, for instance, can eliminate their separate presidential primaries and move them back to the June dates on which their state and local primaries are held because the June date fits within the window of time in which the national parties allow states to hold presidential delegate selection events. California and New Jersey -- and Arkansas before them -- can do that. Florida, Massachusetts and other states with July, August and September primaries cannot. In other words, California and New Jersey have a way of cutting costs in the elections section of the budget that states like Florida and Massachusetts do not.
That fact, of course, does not in any way financially relieve that latter group of states. They still face the same budget crunch as the other states, but don't have that same cost-saving option. Florida doesn't seem to mind. Legislators there are more concerned with the state playing a role in selecting the, in 2012 at least, Republican presidential nominee. But elsewhere states are grappling with the costs of holding elections and what to do given that pressure.
The latest state to publicly deal with this is Massachusetts. There, the presidential primary is on the chopping block. In the eyes of Secretary of State Bill Galvin it is at least unless the Elections Division can convince the state legislature to add $3.5 million to its budget. Said Galvin:
“The number that was submitted by the governor despite the fact that he suggested, or his administration suggested, that it would be a 2 percent cut, in fact is a far more drastic cut. My budget will go down anyways for the coming fiscal year in the elections area because we have one fewer election in the upcoming fiscal year than we did in the last, but nevertheless, it’s a problem to run this March 6, 2012 event based upon the numbers they’ve submitted.”
As far as alternatives, Galvin suggested shifting to a state party-funded caucus system.
“I asked the legislature during my testimony yesterday on the budget to increase the line item, which I know it was a difficult thing given the circumstances of the year, or I suggested to them they could of course cancel the primary, and we could go to a caucus system.”
That is one option. But because Massachusetts has such a late date for its state and local primaries, it is subject to the MOVE act that passed Congress in 2009. The September 18, 2012 primary is just 49 days before the November 6 general election. That gives the state just four days to finalize general election nominees, print ballots and distribute them to military and overseas personnel to comply with that law. That is likely an inadequate window of time in which to complete those tasks. In other words, Massachusetts faces having to move the date on which its state and local primaries are held. The temptation, as was the case in the District of Columbia, may be to simultaneously move both the presidential primary and the primaries for state and local offices to a date that complies with both national party rules governing presidential delegate selection and the mandates required by the MOVE act.
This trend merits watching as state legislatures settle in to deal with the budgets in their respective states. It has the potential to affect the development of the presidential primary calendar and could ultimately suit the national parties' interests quite well. The more states that have to consider moving a presidential primary back to coincide with a traditional or newly timed set of primaries for state and local offices, the more likely it is that there will be fewer rogue states breaking the delegate selection rules. And the states that have been best able to move to those increasingly earlier presidential primary dates are the very same states that have very late primaries for state and local offices. Again, it merits watching.
(via WBZ Boston)
BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a possibility that Massachusetts won’t be able to participate fully in the next presidential election.
If they were deciding today, where would they choose to go? A Note about the 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar