Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Amendments to Connecticut Presidential Primary Bill Would Move It Back to April

Late last week Connecticut lawmakers in the state House proposed two amendments to the presidential primary bill before the Nutmeg state's legislature. In the original version, HB 6532, called for moving the presidential primary back into compliance with national party rules by shifting it from February to the first Tuesday in March. The bill has been gathering dust for a month since it was favorably reported from committee. Now, however, a bipartisan group of state representatives (Russell Morin (D-28th, Wethersfield), Tony Hwang (R-134th, Fairfield), Joe Aresimowicz (D-30th, Berlin) and Melissa Olson (D-46th, Norwich)), have added an amendment to move the primary further back, to the last week in April.

That April 24th date is the date currently occupied by the Pennsylvania primary and being targeted by Democrats in Delaware. Yes, that is a date that is potentially appealing to the Democratic majority in the Connecticut legislature. Though the move further back on the 2012 primary calendar would bring the state back into compliance with the national parties' rules and grant the state party additional delegates and clout at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, it will not save the state any money. The move would not consolidate the presidential primary with the primaries for state and local offices.

And while it is also curious on its face that a Republican representative has signed onto this amendment in a year with only the Republican nomination at stake, the move would actually benefit Connecticut Republicans on at least one level. Yes, an undecided nomination race could last into late April, making Connecticut consequential and/or decisive, but the move would also allow the Connecticut Republican Party to maintain its tradition of allocating delegates on a winner-take-all basis, something the Republican delegate selection rules prevent prior to April 1.1

The Connecticut legislature will remain in session until June 8.

1 Of course, it is debatable whether those new rules are as stringent as they are being interpreted on the state level. Outside of a few prospective rogues (Arizona, Florida and Michigan), most states are heeding the new rules changes; often citing fear of national party penalties.

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