by Christian Wade
A proposal to move Connecticut’s presidential primary date is being pushed by an unlikely alliance between leaders of the state’s two largest political parties.
The legislation, if approved, would change the state’s presidential primary date to the first Tuesday in April, which in the next nominating cycle would be April 2, 2024. Under the current law, the primary is held on the last Tuesday, which would be April 30, 2024 in the next cycle.
Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the state’s Democratic Party, said Connecticut voters have been “shortchanged” in the primaries by being scheduled on the last Tuesday in April. She said by then “most of the decisions about the field of candidates in both the Democratic and the Republican party have already been made.”
“As we all know, three weeks in politics can be an eternity,” DiNardo told the Legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee in testimony. “This shift in the schedule will give Connecticut’s voters a greater voice in the process, and very likely more opportunities to meet the candidates.”
It’s a view shared by Ben Proto, chairman of Connecticut Republican Party, who says moving up the presidential primary would make the state more attractive to presidential candidates, which would also have “tangential” benefits for the state and its localities.
“We know that when the candidates come to a state they spend a lot of money, not only on their media buys, but also within our hospitality industry, on salaries, on staff,” he told the panel Monday during a hearing on the bill.
DiNardo said if the changes are approved, the state’s primary date would coincide with New York’s presidential primary.
“While our state has not been a priority for candidate visits in previous years, given the late season timing and our relative size, candidates may take a different approach if they are campaigning one state over,” she said.
The state’s elevated status “could also result in more money coming to the state in terms of candidate advertising dollars and event production for visits to the state,” DiNardo said.
Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas, who oversees the state’s elections, also supports the changes which she said would allow Connecticut to “join a number of other Northeast states seeking to give the voters in their states a greater voice in the presidential primary outcome.”
Even if the changes are approved, Connecticut would still be held after the March 5 “Super Tuesday,” which features primaries in California, Massachusetts, Texas and Vermont.
Connecticut was one of 20 states that submitted a bid to host an early primary to the National Democratic Committee, which has proposed a major shake-up in the party’s presidential nominating calendar.
In December, the DNC’s Rules & Bylaws Committee voted to make South Carolina the first state to hold a primary, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire, and later Georgia and Michigan, before Super Tuesday. The panel also bumped Iowa — which holds its presidential caucuses ahead of New Hampshire’s primary — down in the primary calendar.
The changes, which must still be approved by the full DNC, were requested by Democratic President Joe Biden who asked DNC leaders to approve the early state lineup.
South Carolina was a key battleground state in Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential elections.
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Christian Wade is a contributor to The Center Square.