Monday, January 29, 2007

February primary bill has been filed by Madigan, Boland and Flowers

Speaker Madigan filed (with Mike Boland, the chamber's leading election reformer and Mary Flowers -- potentially a sign that she'll be the new Chair of the Election and Campaign Reform Committee?) HB 426, a bill that would move the entire primary (not just the presidential primary) from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. The bill is also a permanent bill, and not just a one-time-only move for 2008. It applies to gubernatorial years (2010, 2014) as well as presidential years.

You might call this the Help Barack Obama bill, or the Make Illinois Voters Relevant to Picking the President Bill, but in any event, the bill has been filed, I predict it will be signed into law and I think for 2008, that's a good thing. For other years (that is, when Barack isn't running for president), I'd rather have nice weather for elections, as I don't like walking in the cold, so if it was up to me, I'd move the primary to June or September. And I'd imagine most campaign workers would agree with that sentiment (ignoring the speculation on how cold weather might impact election results).

It's up to the DNC and the RNC to force through a later presidential primary schedule for 2012. Party rules dictate how presidential nominees are selected, and party rules allow states to schedule their primaries on the first Tuesday in February that will help select delegates to the national convention. If you think this is too early to have a huge primary election (since California and a few other big states are also moving to the first available slot), and that nine months is a long time for the two presumptive nominees to battle it out, then tell Howard Dean and/or Mel Martinez, as well as the Illinois members of the DNC and/or the RNC to push through even tougher party rules now.

John Fritchey has some thoughtful posts on the topic here, and a few groups are pushing some innovative reforms for presidential primaries, including the American Plan and the Secretary of States' Rotating Regional Plan.


grand old partisan 9:38 AM  

This isn't the "Help Barack Obama Bill", it's the "Use Barack Obama as an excuse to Help Lisa Madigan Bill."

Anonymous,  10:38 AM  

I'm surprised at you Dan. Usually you do a good job at being nonpartisan, but why mention only two of the three legally established statewide political parties? Such a change would also affect the Illinois Green Party and it's candidates.

Patrick F. Kelly,  1:04 PM  

This helps Barack Obama about as much as moving up the date of the Super Bowl would help the Bears win. It's just a ridiculous notion.

What this does, however, is make it harder for challengers to win and for voters to vote. Moving the primary to the first week in Feb. ensures a lower turnout, thus a greater percentage of the vote that can be bought and sold by political patronage. Nothing like icy sidewalks, strong wind gusts, snowstorms and snowed in cars -- daunting to many people, but especially the elderly -- to ensure victory for Madigan's Machine stooges.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger 4:03 PM  

Anonymous, you're of course correct that an early primary in 2008 and 2010 will impact the Green Party as well as the Democratic and Republican Parties, but the point I was trying to make is that the reason why Illinois, California, Michigan, Florida and New Jersey are all looking to move their primary elections to February 5th is because DNC (and, I think, RNC rules) punish the allocation of delegates from any state that holds an election before that day. The Green Party's national coordinating committee does not, as far as I know, impose a similar rule. And Patrick, I don't think the third week of March enjoys nicer weather than the first week of February. But to your larger point, Speaker Madigan's record has been of expanding the franchise by supporting initiatives to implement early voting and expanding voter registration by an additional 14 days.

Randall Sherman 7:09 PM  

While I think holding a February 5 Primary in 2008 is pretty close to a done deal, I would hope that the legislators would include a sunset provision so that the matter could be revisited in 2009. If not, enacting a permanent early primary might just be the final straw that insures that voters approve a call in November 2008 for a new State Constitutional Convention so that everything in state government can be cleaned out.

Milton 6:10 PM  

I would like to see them have the Gov's race at the same time as the Presidential race.


--- Prof. Leland Milton Goldblatt

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