Monday, February 13, 2012

Bill Would Repeal Arizona Presidential Primary

Senator Steve Gallardo (D-13th) two weeks ago introduced legislation in the Arizona state Senate to repeal in its entirety the section of the Grand Canyon state's election code dealing the presidential preference election. SB 1429 would strike Title 16, article 4 from the existing revised statutes.

And no, this would in no way affect the presidential primary coming up in Arizona at the end of the month. Even if the Democratic-sponsored legislation was able to make it through both of the Republican-controlled chambers in the Arizona state legislation, Governor Jan Brewer (R) would likely veto the legislation for much the same reason Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed legislation in the Show Me state over the summer to change the primary date there. The resulting change to the election code would have removed some gubernatorial power. In Missouri's case, the veto was based on the mostly unrelated (to the presidential primary) power of the governor to make appointments to fill vacant or vacated statewide offices. For Brewer and other subsequent Arizona governors, a repeal of the presidential preference election would strip governors of the ability to set the date of the primary.

More to the point, the legislation would not take effect until December 31, 2012 if it passed the legislature and was signed into law. The February 28 primary is safe.

Now, as FHQ mentioned last month, this is something that the Arizona Democratic Party considered last year. There was a plan in place for the party to shift from using the primary as a means of allocating delegates -- no matter what date it fell on -- to a caucus as early as May 2011. Part of the consideration was an effort -- which included the possibility of a similar repeal bill -- to put Republicans in the state legislature on the defensive over the $5 million state expenditure on the election. That part of the considerations went nowhere at the time, but has been resurrected with little chance of advancing in 2012.

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