TRENTON – The state Democratic Committee Chairman, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), of Sayreville, is fronting a bill to eliminate the separate presidential primary election held in February of presidential election years and merging it with the regular June primary election.
Wisniewski said not only could the state possibly lose delegates at the presidential conventions if they do not move the primary back, but the election saving could exceed $8 million.
The Office of Legislative Services has not yet provided a fiscal note to substantiate that claim though.
Wisniewski said this law was changed more than four years ago to try to give more “relevance” to the state’s primary outcomes, pushing them further ahead in the season. Unfortunately, he said, several other states also move their elections forward, with almost half of the nation conducting primaries on that day.
“Everybody else moved it,” he said. The move to make New Jersey more “unique and have us stand out was well intentioned,” but failed.
The Republican and Democratic national committees have agreed to new rules, he said, that penalize states where primary elections are conducted before a certain date with a loss of delegates, with exceptions for states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Both parties could run the risk of having their delegations penalized if they don’t move it,” he said, hence the simply, money-saving bill. “Nothing more nothing less, just moving the date back.”
Gov. Chris Christie also favors a move of the primary to June, saying at a press conference last month that despite the late date, New Jersey could still be a player.
“New Jersey might be in a powerful position in June to help determine the Republican nominee for president,” Christie said in a press conference last month.
Both the League of Municipalities and the N.J. Association of Counties submitted notes in favor of the bill, which passed unanimously.