Despite a misleading headline, according to the New York Daily News, state Republicans in New York are eyeing a March 1 date for the Empire state presidential primary.1
Wanting a March 1 primary date and getting it are two different things, however. With split control of the state Senate and Democrats controlling the other levers of New York state government (state Assembly and governor's mansion), a desire for a March 1 primary date may just be that: a desire.
Republicans in New York as in the rest of the country face a different decision-making calculus than do Democrats. While Republicans in New York and nationwide are motivated by a wide open nomination race with a number of viable candidates, Democrats do not. With a clear frontrunner in Hillary Clinton and little more than token opposition to her run at this point, state-level Democrats are encountering less urgency to shift primaries to earlier dates to ensure that the state and Democratic voters therein have a say in determining the nominee.
Absent that, Democrats in New York and elsewhere are motivated by other factors like consolidating the presidential primary with those primaries for state, congressional and local offices. That is apparently the case in New York. Democrats in the Empire state may be spurred to created a later consolidated date for the primaries as a function saving costs.
New York Republicans, however, want to move to March 1 which is the earliest date on which non-carve-out states can hold primaries and caucuses based on national party delegate selection rules.2 That is also the date that a number of southern states are targeting for their proposed SEC primary. New York would find regional company on that date. Massachusetts and Vermont are also scheduled for March 1 on the 2016 presidential primary calendar.
But since the two parties are pushed and pulled by different factors, a compromise position will have to be hammered out in the legislature. That may mean a March 1 date, but it may also mean a later calendar position.
1 Yes, New York had an April presidential primary in 2012, but the law passed and signed into law there in 2011 that created that positioning sunset after 2012 at which time the primary reverted to its previous February position. While the New York primary would move up as compared to its position on the 2012 primary calendar, it would move back as compared to where state law now calls for the primary to be.
2 This is an atypical position for New York on the primary calendar in the post-reform era. The presidential primary in the Empire state has only been on the earliest date allowed by both parties twice, 2000 and 2008. Other than those two instances, New York has tended to occupy later March or April spots on the calendar.
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