Thursday, February 28, 2019

Puerto Rico Democrats Eye March Presidential Primary Shift

In a nice #InvisiblePrimary piece about the role Puerto Rico might play in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination process, Marc Caputo had a line that could have been lost in the shuffle if one was not paying close attention:
Adding to Puerto Rico’s political value, Gov. Ricardo Rossell√≥ is backing a plan to move the 2020 primary from early June to one of the final two weekends in March.
That is the sort of action that usually grabs FHQ's attention. And rusty though my Spanish may be, there is no bill currently before the Puerto Rico Assembly that would shift the date of the presidential primary on the island. I have checked.

So FHQ reached out to Caputo to see if there was any more light he could shed on the matter. While there is no bill with any language to change the June primary date to March for Democrats in the territory, Caputo shared with FHQ that there is a bill that may be used as a vehicle for pushing that change. S 1026, a still-active bill introduced in June 2018 by Senator Miguel Romero Lugo (PR-District I, San Juan), currently calls for a renaming of the presidential primary act and the addition of a requirement for presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns to appear on the primary ballot. The tentative plan is to amend that bill and tack on the Democratic presidential primary date change.

The current statute treats the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries differently.1 The Republican primary essentially defaults to the first Sunday in March while the Democratic primary follows three months later on the first Sunday in June. In some ways the set up is similar to the primary scheduling in South Carolina where the two parties' primaries are typically on separate days. But in the Palmetto state those two contests have tended to be only a week apart in years in which both parties have active nomination races.

Three months between contests in Puerto Rico is a bit different. But with this potential change -- if the bill above is amended -- the later Democratic primary would be nudged up the calendar into March, the same month as the Republican primary, albeit not on the same date. That would push another 51 pledged delegates into what is shaping up to the be the busiest month on the primary calendar.


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1 The statute setting the date of the presidential primary in the Puerto Rico is as follows:
§ 1324. Primary date  
The presidential primary of the Republican Party will be held on the last Sunday of the month of February of the year in which the presidential elections in the United States are to be held, as long as it does not precede or coincide with the celebration of the presidential primary of the State of New Hampshire. If there is such a conflict, the presidential primary will be held on the first Sunday of March. The Democratic Party presidential primary will be held on the first Sunday of June, that same year. In case of opting for a political party affiliated by the alternative of Assembly arranged in sec. 1350 of this title, it will be celebrated on these dates.
[Emphasis is FHQ's]


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When and if the Puerto Rico bill in question is amended with a provision to change the date of the primary there, FHQ will add it to the 2020 presidential primary calendar.

Hat tip to @heyitsfoxyyyy for bringing the Caputo piece to FHQ's attention.


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