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More influence for voters or more control for incumbents? Moving NC’s primaries to March sparks concerns (video)

If Gov. Pat McCrory signs House Bill 373 next week, North Carolina’s primaries would move from May to mid-March next year.

Senator Andrew Brock told his colleagues Thursday the bill would increase our state’s significance in the presidential primary, forcing candidates to address North Carolina concerns.

But Senator Jeff Jackson argued the earlier primary date also would give incumbents and unfair advantage over citizens who might have an interest in running for office  but have yet to establish their campaign.

But another section of  HB 373 drawing considerable concern is a last-minute provision that would create “party affiliated committees.” As Chris Fitzsimon explains in his Friday column:

Unlike the personal campaign accounts of the legislative leaders, the new committees can receive unlimited contributions from special interests, lobbyists, even corporations, and can receive them during legislative sessions when lawmakers themselves can’t raise money.

Legislators are banned from received money from lobbyists at any time.

Grassroots activists on the Right are upset by the change because they think it diminishes the role of political parties by giving legislative leaders the ability to control massive amounts of money on their own that they can use to punish or reward other candidates. That’s true and disturbing enough.

But as Democracy North Carolina’s Bob Hall points out, the new committees also dramatically expand pay-to-play politics in the state.

It will now be legal for Duke Energy, the video poker industry, payday lenders, or any other well-funded special interest to make a huge contribution to a committee controlled by the most powerful legislators on the eve of a vote on legislation supported or opposed by the special interest.

Read Fitzsimon’s full column on the main Policy Watch website.  Read Democracy NC’s condemnation of the bill here.

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