News and Tribune


February 24, 2013

HOWEY: Moving up Indiana’s primary election



So here's a solution: Every four years, move the start of the General Assembly from the first week in January to the second week in February. Or just make that change for all sessions. That would give a new gubernatorial administration an extra month to staff up and develop a budget, along with a more comprehensive legislative agenda.

There's a law requiring the General Assembly to begin that first week in January. Change it. The legislature could convene on Feb. 15 and adjourn before Memorial Day. The assembly is no longer dominated by farmers, as it was decades ago. This would allow all the primary campaign to take place before convening.

Another law concerning presidential ballot petition signatures could be changed to allow the signature submission period to begin in November or December of the previous year.

Indiana Democratic Chairman Dan Parker told HPI, “We benefitted greatly from 2008. One of the major aspects was it improves the relevancy of the party at a time when it is deteriorating.”

“I think it's a conversation worth having,” Parker added.

He is not alone.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels suggested in 2009 that Indiana move its presidential primary to the same day as New Hampshire's, where it originally stood. A tax on all campaign-related spending could be used to finance the extra election. Currently the costs of the primary are the responsibility of the counties.

“I hope there'd be more now that we've actually seen how much fun it is,” Daniels said. “I hadn't imagined — and no one did — that we'd actually have such a competitive, meaningful contest here. Now we've seen what it's like. Hoosiers enjoyed it. I wish it were an every-time affair, so I think it's an idea we should still talk about.”

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