Primary Thought

Super Tuesday is upon us and I hope everyone living in the 22 states stuffed into the calendar go out and vote. Maybe, by the time we wake up Wednesday morning, the dust will have settled and we’ll know who will be in the General Election. Then we can ignore the screaming until after Labor Day.

Like you, I keep thinking there has to be a better way to make this process work. Oddly, so have Senators Lamar Alexander, Amy Klobuchar and Joseph Lieberman who have cosponsored the Regional Primaries Act of 2007. I bet most of you didn’t realize that last July, the bill, to organize the country into regions for a more rational primary system was introduced in the Senate. Better yet, it was also supported by the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Bill number S.1905 was introduced on July 31 and testimony was heard on September 19. From what I can by checking on the bill’s status, it’s sort of hanging out in committee, gathering dust. So much for fixing a system we know is flawed if not broken.

Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s Secretary of State explains, “The NASS is hoping that party leaders will adopt rotating regional primaries for 2012. Our bipartisan plan would divide the country into geographical regions (Northeast, South, Midwest and West) and spread out the primaries and caucuses over a period of four months, beginning in March of each cycle. The voting order of the regions would then rotate every four years.”

For example, the bill proposes that region one would consist of Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Now, you imagine no such bill would pass because New Hampshire and Iowa would be screaming their traditional “first” position would be sacrificed. Joe Lieberman, the sort of Independent Senator from Connecticut, testified before Congress last September, “There are two exceptions to the rule: New Hampshire and Iowa would continue to hold the first primary and caucuses, respectively, before any of the regional primaries took place. I personally would prefer to omit this provision. If we are going to change to a regional system, there should be no exceptions, and I am concerned that these two states will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of the nominating process. But Iowa and New Hampshire share an historic, first-in-the-nation status in the presidential primary process and so, they remain the first caucus and primary states in this bill.”

This way, all interested candidates have time to focus their message and campaign and not have to rush, crisscrossing the country pell mell, and doing everything in a rush. It might even give candidates the media virtually ignored to get their message out to the actual people.

After you vote tomorrow, drop your own Senator a friendly note and support the effort to fix this mess.

3 comments

  • Mike B.risbois

    New Hampshire has a “disproportionate impact”?

    Tell that to Estes Kefauver!

  • Paul Balze

    My idea: Three primaries per week, every Tuesday for sixteen weeks from April to August. One small state, one medium, one large, as determined by population figures from the most recent census. Yes, that only comes to 48 states–California and New York, the states with the largest population, would be tipped in at weeks eight and sixteen, trading off which came first in successive years (CA first in 2012, NY first in 2016 and so on).

  • There is logic to having smaller states first. It makes it easy for good candidates without money to make an impression. Iowa helped Carter in ’76, appears to be helping Obama in ’08.

    I would just start with the smallest state and work up to the largest. It made sense that California was last for years.

    This way, the primary season could be fun, too.

    I certainly don’t like Super Tuesday.

    Mike F