Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Last Shall Be First: Arkansas Primaries in August

This morning, Sen. Steve Faris filed SB253, a bill to move the primary election to the second Tuesday in August. This is the second bill dealing with the date of the primary election filed this session. Last week, the house passed HB1021 by Rep. Jon Woods which will repeal the separate Presidential Preferential Primary, moving the primary vote for President to the same date as the regular primary election, saving the state an estimated $1.7 million.

Sen. Faris told the Associated Press that the reason he feels the primary should be moved is so that the primary campaigns are not occurring the same time as the new even year legislative session; these new sessions are due to the change to annual sessions approved by the voters in November.

But would moving the primary to August cause the state to lose any meaningful significance in Presidential Elections? Not necessary. Two years ago Arkansas created a special Presidential only primary in an effort to be one of the first states to vote thereby strengthening the influence of the natural state. This did not pan out as 23 other states also moved their primary to vote on the same day. But in the Democrat primary, we saw a long drawn out race that went all the way to the Puerto Rico primary on June 1 and the Montana and South Dakota primaries on June 3. Remember Hillary Clinton riding around Puerto Rico in the back of a pick-up truck?

If Arkansas moves its primary to August, then we would be the last state to vote in the Presidential primary campaign. In all likelihood, this would mean that the race would be decided months before we vote, but that would probably be the case in May as well. But by being last, we just might end up being the most important primary in the country. Who knows maybe in 2012 Hillary Clinton will be riding around in the back of a pick-up truck right here in Arkansas!

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