Commentary

Changing the primary date: Another lousy idea from lawmakers

Jerry Williamson of Watauga Watch is on the money today with a biting attack on the widely reported decision of the powers that be in Raleigh to move up the 2016 state primary to March:

As Willimason notes:

“This week in Raleigh, the General Assembly will very likely move up the 2016 primary elections  to the Ides of March — for all offices, from the White House to the Courthouse.

Meaning, primarily, that challengers to incumbents will have far less time to make their case, whether they’re challenging a sitting (squatting?) county commissioner or a posturing U.S. Senator.”

Chris Fitzsimon also highlighted this shift in last week’s “Follies” column:

“It’s a huge advantage for incumbents. Potential primary opponents will have little time to get campaigns organized and to raise money.

Given the absurdly gerrymandered districts, the only threat to many state lawmakers comes in the primaries. Moving up the election reduces that threat.

It’s also worth noting that the sure to be unpopular expansion of the sales tax base to services like car repairs, appliance installation, and clothing alterations takes effect in March so many voters won’t realize they are paying more for basic services until the primary is over.

No wonder they are moving it up.”

What both men might have also noted is the simple absurdity of selecting candidates for an election almost eight months (1/3 of the term or many of the offices impacted) prior to the election. Several years ago, when litigation forced a delay, things actually went quite well with a September primary. We would do well to try that again.

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