It’s sort of hard to believe, but we’re basically a couple holidays away from the beginning of a new legislative year – and in Delaware, the commencement of a new session of the General Assembly. (Unfortunately, it will be at the behest of the same old governor, John “Governor Carnage” Carney.)
While the recent election was relatively good for the Republicans on a national level in terms of keeping or gaining control of state legislative bodies, Delaware bucked that trend to a point where the Democrats now have a solid 2/3 majority in the Senate (14-7) to go along with the 26-15 margin they kept in the House. Despite that success, Democrats want to make some ill-advised changes to the electoral system instead of useful ones like photo voter ID and scrapping their previously-passed foray into early and often voting come 2022.
One proposal that quickly drew my ire is a bill (I believe this will be HB30) to move the primary date from September to April. To me, this is a terrible idea for several reasons – first and foremost, it’s because the duopoly party establishment wants it. (Of course, if it were up to them we wouldn’t even get a primary – they would simply emerge once the smoke turns white and tell us who the candidates will be.)
We went through this in Maryland about a decade ago, basically because the Democrats HATED protracted primary fights. So they moved the state’s primary up from September to the spring and, first chance they got, selected someone in the 2014 gubernatorial primary they absolutely hated by Election Day. They then doubled down and did it even worse in 2018.
As far as the Republicans went, the chances of an insurgent campaign went right out the window. An early primary gives the media more time to dig (or conjure) up dirt on the GOP hopeful once nominated and also advantages those who have name ID.
My second objection is how it would stretch out campaign season. Admittedly, this is nothing compared to the perpetual campaign for 2024 we will see from Donald Trump if the 2020 election is heisted away from him, but look at how this year’s Delaware campaign played out. The eventual Republican nominees didn’t begin campaigning a great deal until the spring – in fact, had Delaware had its primary in April with its Presidential primary, the GOP nominee would have likely been the same nominee who lost in 2016. None of the “new blood” candidates were viable in the early spring.
If it were up to me, the state of Delaware would be the trendsetter with the late primary. I honestly see no need to begin the Presidential campaign until April, with six weeks of regional eight-state primaries in June and July leading to national conventions running the week before and after Labor Day. (Iowa and New Hampshire can still go first, but having a succession of “Super Tuesday” primaries concentrated in one region beginning a week or two later means a candidate could forgo those contests and still be viable.) Regions can take turns being first.
I will say that there is one part of HB30 that should be stripped out of the bill and allowed to be its own proposal, and that’s the part about changing parties. Since I happen to be in a non-principal party, I could not change my registration to vote in a primary thanks to an absurdly early deadline for switching affiliation (something like four months prior to the election.) This would change it to 60 days, which is fair. Certainly there will be more party switching if this occurs, but sometimes that’s a good political strategy when your party has no primary.
But if I have to toss that baby out with the HB30 bathwater, so be it. This idea is a bad one, which means it will probably be on Governor Carnage’s desk by early March. Such is the political idiocy in Delaware, and we blew our chance at changing that last month.