Both Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut are backing a proposal to move up the date of Connecticut’s presidential primary in hopes of giving the small state a bigger say in choosing presidential candidates.
The bill, which unanimously cleared a key committee on Friday, would move the date of the primary from the last Tuesday in April of each presidential election year to the first. The legislation now awaits further action in the House of Representatives.
In a moment of political comity, the chairpersons of the state Democratic and Republican parties recently appeared together to testify in favor of the legislation.
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“For too many presidential elections, Connecticut voters have been shortchanged in the primaries by being scheduled on the last Tuesday in April,” Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo told legislators. She noted that presidential candidates in both parties have often been selected by the time Connecticut primary voters cast their ballots.
Benjamin Proto, chair of the Connecticut Republican Party, predicted that changing the primary date could encourage more voters to engage in the primary process and possibly encourage candidate visits. That, he said, would be an “economic boon” to the state.
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“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 said. “So there’s a tangential benefit to do this, to making us a competitive state that candidates want to come to.”
Connecticut, which leans Democratic, has seven electoral votes.
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On the (last) first Tuesday in April of each year in which the President 4 of the United States is to be elected, each party shall conduct a primary 5 in each town if the names of two or more candidates are to be placed on 6 such party’s ballot in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.