Saturday, June 20, 2015

Still Unresolved, New York Senate Passes Bill Scheduling an April 19 Presidential Primary

The New York state legislature is working to finish up its business for 2015. However, a number of matters that have yet to be fully addressed have pushed the expected adjournment of the body back at least into next week.1 One of the issues that remains unresolved is the the date of the 2016 presidential primary. As of now, New York law schedules that election for the first Tuesday in February, a date non-compliant with national party rules.

The inter-chamber discussions have centered on an April 26 date, but that that date falls in the middle of Passover week in 2016 has created some friction, elevating a bill -- one of five total bills dealing with the presidential primary -- calling for an April 19 presidential primary. That bill, S5958, advanced through the state Senate on Thursday, June 18 by a 36-27 vote largely along party lines (four Democrats voted in favor of the measure).2 As of Friday, June 19, now has an identical companion bill -- A8310 -- in the Assembly.

The Democratic-controlled lower chamber now has a couple of bills that would shift the presidential primary to April 19. But there are also three previously introduced bills that would move the election to April 26. The later date would align the New York presidential primary with similar elections in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. It is also a date that has the approval of the Democratic National Committee (or was proposed by the DNC).

As FHQ has explained (and this is well explained in the Capitol New York piece by Bill Mahoney), New York Democrats are motivated to hold the primary on April 26 because of the delegate bonuses associated with the date. The 10% timing bonus would be available on April 19, but the 15% clustering bonus would not without concurrent elections in neighboring states.

That there is a companion bill in the Assembly can be taken as a good sign that April 19 is closer to a go than not, but this matter is not closed. Democrats can attain a 15% timing bonus for a contest in May (or later). How tempting that ends up being to Democrats in the Assembly remains to be seen. However, with the end of the session already having been pushed back, a quick compromise may be the path of least resistance.

1 The state Senate is set to gather on Tuesday, June 23.

2 The committee vote was a more narrow 13-10 to move the legislation to the full chamber. In addition to those 13 Republican yeas, 2 Democrats voted for the bill in committee but reserved the right to vote against it on the floor (which they did).

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