Delaware Vote Tracker

HB 30 – Earlier Primary – Passes House

We have the latest primary election date in the country. The middle of September. We have been yearning to change it to an earlier date forever. The question has always been, when? August? No, too many summer vacations could produce a low turnout. July seems to be a no go for the same reason, and due to the fact that the mad scramble at the end of the legislative session on June 30 just occurred. June is out for the same reason: the legislative session. So that leaves you with April or May.

So House Bill 30, filed by Rep. Stephanie Bolden, moves the state and local primary date from mid September to the last Tuesday in April, so as to combine it with the presidential primary date that is held every four years. In my mind, this splits the difference between choosing a date in April or May. And really this is the only date that works.

El Somnambulo over at the Delaware Liberal is quite hyperbolic that holding the election in April is a crime against humanity, and that the passage of HB 30 will end forever democracy on this planet. He calls moving the primary to late April anti-democratic. He thinks this is all about incumbency protection, which is ridiculous. In fact, having the primary so close to the general election is the true incumbent protection racket, because it gives challengers who just won a primary less time to raise money and gear up for the general. There is nothing stopping a challenger who wants to primary an incumbent in his own party from campaigning nonstop from Election Day in 2020 to Primary Day in 2022. Indeed, I dare say if you want to be a successful challenger, that is what you do anyway. Just ask Eric Morrison, Marie Pinkney and Madinah Wilson-Anton. They all got started early.

The bill passed 37-4, and now heads to the Senate for consideration. The 4 no votes are an unique combination. Andria Bennett, Jeff Spiegelman, John Kowalko and Eric Morrison. A Moderate/Conservative Democrat, a Libertarian Republican and two Progressives. Interesting.

El Som does bring up one concern that is somewhat legitimate. The filing deadline. If the primary is in April, that means the filing deadline for primary challengers would be in February. And he thinks that means that there will be incumbents who file by the deadline and then decide to retire after the deadline. And that means if no one files to primary an incumbent before the deadline, then the selection of a new candidate to replace the incumbent would be left to the RD Committee and the Party.

That is a concern that can easily be remedied with an Amendment that addresses that situation that allows a two week reopening of the deadline following the incumbent’s retirement announcement that would allow new candidates to file and run in the primary election.

Bolden, D.Short, Minor-Brown, Longhurst, Griffith, Yearick, Baumbach, MitchellPassed House 37-4. Baumbach, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Briggs King, Bush, Carson, Chukwuocha, Collins, Cooke D. Short Dorsey Walker, Dukes, Gray, Griffith Heffernan Hensley K. Johnson K. Williams Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews M. Smith Minor-Brown Mitchell Morris Osienski Postles Ramone S. Moore Schwartzkopf Shupe Smyk Vanderwende Wilson-Anton
Bennett, Morrison, Kowalko, Spiegelman
Poore, Paradee, S.McBride, Pettyjohn
CURRENT STATUS: Sent to the Senate for consideration

“When we exercise our right to vote, we should feel empowered and not confused. This bill makes things much clearer when it’s time to cast a ballot on Election Day,” said Rep. Stephanie Bolden. “This is an important change needed in our elections and will strengthen our democracy, encouraging more people to vote. Consolidating primaries will save the state money, reduce voter confusion and increase turnout. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

“Our elections should be as simple, clear and transparent as possible,” said Sen. Nicole Poore, D-New Castle, HB 30’s lead Senate sponsor. “By consolidating Delaware’s presidential primary with its state primary, we will not only put an end to needless confusion among our constituents, but also save taxpayers additional expense and – most importantly – increase voter turnout. This legislation is good common sense, good fiscal sense and good public policy.”

HB 30 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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

2 comments on “HB 30 – Earlier Primary – Passes House

  1. John Kowalko

    Here is my reasoning for voting against the bill.
    I would have been amenable to a mid-June date and said so in caucus. As it stands an April date will force legitimate challengers to door knock in the dark and in mostly inclement (cold/Snow etc.) weather putting them at a huge disadvantage to name-recognized incumbents who also have the financial capabilities to stay home by the fireplace and send out mass mailers cementing their name recognition. September is too late and compressed with the general election but April is a concession to incumbency and its advantages. I have also considered the willingness of a defeated candidate as of April to continue his/her efforts on behalf of the public. The answer given to me by some individual is that they are honor-bound to meet their obligations. You can judge that statement on its own. I do know of recently defeated incumbents whose absence was palpable after a September defeat. Put those same shoes on someone seeing the inevitable loss of their position in April (two and a half months before session concludes) and use your own imagination as to what “honor-bound” would mean. Would their efforts be obstructive, damaging, vengeful, special interest focused (maybe their next job) or honestly conducted on behalf of the public interest (the same public that just fired them). Just curious that’s all.
    Representative John Kowalko

    • cassandram

      All of this ignores all of the successful (Democratic) campaigns to unseat an incumbent. The best of these campaigns do not start in the winder of the primary year, but in the summer before. They are knocking doors not once, but up to three times during a campaign season they start early. They often move to phone banking once the weather gets tough. Insurgent campaigns take advantage of time by starting a year or more ahead of the primary. Plenty of incumbents don’t knock doors or phone bank — they rely on engineering a higher profile for themselves during an election year and the usual mailers to talk to their voters. Insurgents win because they outwork the incumbent and for some that’s plenty easy to do. The calendar makes very little difference.

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