Thursday, June 4, 2015

March Presidential Primary Effort Ends at Close of Connecticut Legislative Session

Back in January, Connecticut Republicans had visions of a potentially more open primary process and an earlier presidential primary. And while Democrats in control of the state legislature and Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) closed the door on an earlier primary (eliminating the possibility of a more open primary in the process), the end of the Connecticut General Assembly session on Wednesday, June 3, served as the final official death knell for such a change through legislative channels.

Still undecided is how hard the Connecticut Republican Party is going to push to hold caucuses at an earlier date than the late April presidential primary. The state law does not seemingly provide the party with the latitude to make the switch, but whether they want to go through the time and expense of a court challenge has yet to be fully determined.

Connecticut Democrats are locked into that April 26 primary date, but Republicans in the Nutmeg state are hoping they will not be.

Again, the two parties are differently motivated. Republicans, with a wide open presidential primary field of candidates are motivated to hold earlier contests. Democrats, on the other hand, have a far less competitive nomination battle ahead of them. Absent that perceived need to influence the nomination process, Democratic-controlled states have incentive to hold later contests, and where possible, to do so with neighboring states (see mid-Atlantic primary in 2012). That means more delegates from the state will attend the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Connecticut already has the later primary date and one regional partner in Rhode Island.  The clustering bonus will depend on what compromise is hammered out in New York in the coming weeks.

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