On Friday, May 27, Wisconsin state representative, Gary Tauchen (R-6th, Bonduel), introduced AB 162. The legislation would shift the Wisconsin "Spring election" -- including the presidential preference primary -- from the third Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in April. This was the position the primary had held for much of the post-reform (presidential nomination) era. Other than the 2004 and 2008 cycles, the only other time Wisconsin has not held a presidential primary on the first Tuesday in April was in 1996 when the state coordinated its contest with Great Lakes neighbors, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
It is noteworthy that this legislation was introduced in the state Assembly and sponsored in the state Senate (by Sen. Mary Lazich (R-28th, New Berlin)) by members of the Republican caucus in both chambers of the legislature. Our hypothesis concerning 2012 primary movement here at FHQ has been that Republican-controlled legislatures would be less likely to move back than Democratic-controlled legislatures or that Democratic legislatures would be more willing to move further back on the calendar. Given the need to move back due to national party rules, Republican legislatures would opt, on average, to move back to the earliest allowed date -- March 6 -- as opposed to some later date. Recently, however, it has become necessary to moderate that series of hypotheses based on an emerging pattern in some Republican states. The new Republican proportionality requirement has forced some Republican states to reconsider the dates on which presidential primaries are held in order to preserve winner-take-all allocation rules. Those states that value winner-take-all allocation relative to earlier, but proportional influence over the presidential nomination process are opting to conduct presidential primaries and caucus meetings on or after April 1 -- the cutoff after which winner-take-all allocation can be utilized.
Having traditionally used winner-take-all allocation rules, Wisconsin Republicans (some of them in the state legislature at least) are positioning the presidential primary in the Badger state in this legislation to preserve that tradition.
AB 162 will be added to the Presidential Primary Bills Before State Legislatures section in the left sidebar. A link to the legislation will also be added to the 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar.