Moving primary date in Pennsylvania would increase political influence
Pennsylvania is one-third of the way to becoming a more prominent player in the presidential primary nominating process, albeit not until 2024 at the earliest.
The Keystone State must not allow this opportunity to fail.
With the state Senate having voted unanimously last month to approve a bill that would move up by five weeks the spring primary balloting in presidential election years, the House of Representatives should follow the upper chamber’s lead, paving the way for the change to head to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.
For anyone reflecting on past unsuccessful attempts to make Pennsylvania a more visible, formidable presidential-primary player, it should not be difficult to be critical of the timidity of the state lawmakers who allowed those opportunities to slip away unfulfilled.
Anyone harboring even an inkling of the spotlight that would be focused on this state with an earlier primary realizes how much Pennsylvania could shine in terms of meaningfully charting the nation’s direction, going forward.
The much earlier primary would demonstrate the commonwealth’s valuable insight in the formidable task of selecting the best nominees for the general election.
Under the current presidential-primaries setup, it is unfortunate that a small state such as New Hampshire — where the first primary election of the year is held following the Iowa caucuses — has the power to seriously undermine or destroy candidacies that might thrive if one or more of the bigger states were onboard to kick off the primary election season.
Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina harbor but a fragment of the nation’s electoral vote total, yet embrace a disproportionate potential influence on the primary season.
Having Pennsylvania’s size in the early balloting mix would produce a more realistic, fairer picture, early on, regarding the specific candidates.
Pennsylvania’s early voting might siphon some national interest and attention from the four smaller states. However, those traditional early states would continue to maintain a significant degree of importance.
The Senate’s primary-date-change proposal would move the presidential-year primary balloting to the third Tuesday of March from the fourth Tuesday of April, which this year is April 28.
Pennsylvania voters will be among the last in the nation to voice their preferences this year — especially Democrats, who will be choosing someone to do battle against incumbent President Donald Trump.
This year, on the third Tuesday of March, primaries will be held in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. This year, the Keystone State primary will be the same day as balloting in Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island.
Despite the questionable primaries schedule that exists today, the current schedule is better than when presidential candidates were nominated by elite and influential party officials.
Nevertheless, there is a better way for Pennsylvania — the third Tuesday in March rather than the fourth Tuesday in April.
Pennsylvania lawmakers were remiss for not mustering the persistence decades ago to make a change like the one now moving through the Legislature.
They must not repeat that error.