General Assembly Vote Tracker

HB41 – Earlier Primary

House Bill 41 would consolidate Delaware’s presidential primary, normally held on the fourth Tuesday in April, with Delaware’s primary for all other offices, held on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in September. Both primaries would now be held in April on the date of the presidential primary.

“We’ve seen from year to year that far more people vote in the presidential primaries than in the state primaries of the same year,” Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden, D-Wilmington, said in a statement. “In some cases, voters turning out to vote for president are confused when they can’t vote in a primary for governor, Congress or local legislative races. “While it might be seen as an inconvenience to some by having an earlier primary, we owe it to residents to do whatever we can to improve our electoral process, and I’m confident that this is a common-sense move in the right direction.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only four states had later 2018 primaries than Delaware’s Sept. 6 election. In 2016, about 94,000 Delawareans voted in the September primary, while approximately 164,000 cast ballots for presidential candidates in April of that year. This bill has passed the House in 2016 and in 2017, but each time it was either defeated outright in the Senate or never received a vote on the Senate floor.

El Som at Delaware Liberal opposes the April primary and he makes some good points: “Moving the primaries to April merely limits the ability of challengers to meet voters face to face at the doors and/or to make their cases in grassroots primaries.  Cold temperatures and limited daylight are obstacles for that kind of contact in a state where door-to-door is perhaps the most important means of reaching voters. Think of how much easier it would be for incumbents like, say, Chris Coons and John Carney.  I think it would be particularly damaging to grassroots campaigns that need to build from the ground up. The cost savings are minimal, especially when you weigh the cost to democratic involvement.”

But then, conversely, incumbents say that an early primary puts them at a disadvantage since they will spend nearly the entire campaign, January of the election year until the primary, in session. “While it might be seen as an inconvenience to some by having an earlier primary, we owe it to residents to do whatever we can to improve our electoral process,” Bolden said.

Where is the bill now? House Administration Committee as of  1/16/19

Democratic Sponsors: Bolden, Dorsey Walker, McDowell, Baumbach, Bentz, Bush, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Griffith, Heffernan, Longhurst, Lynn, Mitchell, Schwartzkopf, Viola

Republican Sponsors: Pettyjohn, D.Short, Dukes, Ramone

Yes Votes:

No Votes:

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

16 comments on “HB41 – Earlier Primary

  1. Hmmmm incumbents love this……I wonder why? Attention potential 2020 primary candidates. Better get those campaigns going now!

    • cassandram

      Incumbents don’t like this and I have talked to a few of them. Pushback is on timeline — legislators are accustomed to being able to get a session under their belts and then really campaign. Now they’ll have to conduct business the way that most legislators have to — get your legislative job done and campaign. I think that this will shift the timeline for how campaigns happen here, but other than that the real benefit is giving campaigns time between the Primary and the General to recover and make a better case.

      • This is Delaware where most of the time
        The real election is the primary. If incumbents aren’t for it why did they introduce it?

        • There are many reasons that this is common sense.

          Ballot turn around. Military ballots need to be sent 45 days prior to the general election. Having a primary so close to the general is just logistically silly.

          Costs, why have two primaries in presidential years when you can have one? Additionally, do you want to keep campaign costs down? The shorter campaign timeline will naturally lower the amount people raise.

          General election viability, right now this is a one party state. But if reoubRepubl ever get their act together this is a real issue. A tough orimarp takes time to regroup from, if you have a real opponent and you just got out of a rough primary only two months from the general you’re not setting yourself up well.

        • cassandram

          I am aware of where I am. And have lived in other states where the primaries are held in the spring, with the General Election in November. All of those places still have functioning Democracies. The incumbents supporting this have these reasons: 1)Cost — not having 3 elections in Presidential years; 2) Turnout — take advantage of the turnout of a Presidential to boost participation in our own primaries; 3) fix the short turnaround recovery/campaign period between Primary and General.

          The ones in opposition think that this makes them vulnerable — that they can’t campaign.

          • To answer your concerns:

            1) Then stop having a presidential primary and adopt a caucus system. It’s not as if Delaware’s votes on this make any difference. It’s a beauty pageant.

            2) Your statement assumes that higher turnout is a desirable goal unto itself, which I question. Disengaged voters depend on name recognition to a higher degree, another point in favor of incumbents.

            3) The “recovery period” isn’t something that matters to anyone but the politicians and their parties. I don’t need six weeks to recovery from the primary. I could vote again the next day.

            • cassandram

              Yes I already know that you don’t give a damn about anyone but yourself here. Caucusing for primaries is highly discriminatory. Those of us who care about making sure all voters have a chance to say will find this important. Higher turnout can be very useful for grassroots candidates. And it is a good process goal to shoot for the widest inclusion possible. The recovery period is very important to grassroots candidates and candidates who may run against an incumbent for the General and candidates who are trying to eschew corporate money. The fact that you don’t care doesn’t mean that the facts on the ground of campaigns costing money goes away. Campaigns also rely on an army of volunteers too and the current primary dates don’t give those armies much of a break.

              • Yes, as I said, this is important to politicians, and the people trying to get certain of them elected. You certainly qualify. Don’t pretend that your position represents more people than mine does. Most people aren’t interested in your problems.

                Also, none of this seemed to hurt Krista Griffith. Momentum in name recognition is a benefit to lesser-known candidates. That would disappear with a spring primary.

                “The widest inclusion possible” is only important if you’re choosing something important. The fact that you link this to presidential primaries shows that it’s not that important, because that only affects every other cycle.

                The personal insults weren’t necessary. I don’t believe in any policy positions that stand to benefit incumbents, and I disagree with you strongly about whether this helps or hurts them. I think it helps them, and your concerns about ballot access are addressed by other legislation to bring in early voting. My selfishnesshas nothing to do with my position. Can you say the same of yours? Well, I’ll answer that, since of course you can. You do it all the time. And I’ll make that my only insult, to balance out yours.

                • cassandram

                  The first insult here is yours — I’m here relating what incumbents (pro and con) relate to me and this is you assuming that everything I say here is my own position. So you got a chip up on your shoulder for no damn reason. Which is how I know you don’t give a damn about anyone but yourself here. And you were the one who said you were ready to vote the day after a primary. Which is plenty selfish, since the process gives candidates time to make their sale to the ones who aren’t.

                  So this is you pretending that I am a partisan for all of these points when a clear reading of what I wrote relays what the incumbents who have sponsored this think, plus what the incumbents who don’t like it think.

                  So feel free to Fuck Off.

              • The more I think of it, the dumber the charge of selfishness seems. I cited the insurance issue because it’s one most people might not consider. I could have cited the mere physical danger, the fact that winter weather restricts the days you can door-knock and the number of hours you can stay out there, but I assumed those were obvious.

                As a member of the public, there is nothing for me to gain here; it should also be obvious that if a candidate falls off my porch in summer my insurance will still have to foot the bills.

                As for “ensuring all voters have their say,” no Democrat would be in favor of this if the disengaged voters were going to vote Republican. Do you really think Democratic position on immigration would be the same even if 2/3rds of Mexican immigrants voted Republican? So please don’t blow that smoke.

  2. Mitch Crane

    Good arguments for moving the Primary up, but other than the matter of two Primaries in a presidential year, the reasons for an earlier date are just as strong for the non-presidential year.

  3. Every argument put forward talks about the politicians rather than the public. Moving the date forward provides no benefit to the public. In 40 years I have never heard anyone except those involved deeply in politics utter any opinion about this.

    The benefit of the current system to Joe Public is simple: Candidates can’t cater to the base in September and pretend to be centrist six weeks later, because even the masses would notice.

  4. Moving the primary up makes it more accessible to grassroots candidates. The timeline is shorter so it’d encourage lower budget campaigns, it’d happen during session which would give incumbents a disadvantage and having it in the spring would require a lot of doorknocking in the winter, which would benefit the campaign with the most energy.

    • Do you live here on earth? Do you have a functioning brain? Door-knocking in the winter is not going to work, on a number of levels, the most basic of which is that it’s dangerous. I don’t want a 70-something candidate slipping on my sidewalk, thanks very much.

      It does not give incumbents any disadvantage, and moving it does not give the public any advantage. Full stop. This is a bill to convenience politicians, not the public.

  5. A better “Bill”, would be to increase the pensions for military service, to match what our elected officials receive. Or better yet, just reduce elected officials pensions, PERIOD. It will suck if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gets a pension, if God forbid this wack job is re-elected.

    @ Ably “The personal insults weren’t necessary.” Coming from you….ha-ha-ha!!!

    • You’re supposed to insult your enemies, not your allies. You, for example, are the enemy of all that is rational and intelligent, so I insult you.

      I also pity you. You must be a horribly lonely person to prefer the abuse here over congregating with people who think like you do.

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