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Measure Would Save State Money, Provide Relevance by Rejoining Presidential Primary Election with Traditional June Primary Elections

(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John S. Wisniewski, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Thomas P. Giblin and Majority Leader Joseph Cryan that would move New Jersey’s February presidential primary election back to June, to be held with the regular partisan primary elections, was advanced Monday by a Senate committee.

The bill was recently approved 76-0 by the Assembly. It was released Monday by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

“When we first moved New Jersey’s presidential primary up six years ago, it was with the intent that New Jersey be more than a fundraising stopover for presidential hopefuls,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Now, all we are doing is paying $8 million to $12 million every four years for the privilege of selecting presidential candidates with fully half of the nation. Moving the primary back to June just makes sense, from both a relevance and economic perspective.”

Under the legislation (A-3777), New Jersey’s separate February presidential primary would be eliminated and returned to the regular June primary election, as it was before 2005.

“During the 2008 presidential primaries, New Jersey shared the stage with 24 other states and American Samoa, relegating our state’s participation to a mere footnote,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer). “Moving our presidential primary back to June ensures that if there is another extended presidential primary battle in the future, New Jerseyans will have a more significant say in the outcome.”

“We moved our primary up six years ago to ensure that New Jerseyans weren’t left on the sidelines when it came time to select presidential candidates,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “Yet that’s exactly where we ended up, because so many other states had the same idea. Moving our presidential primary election back to June would provide us with the benefits we failed to achieve by holding an early primary election.”

“This move is as much about cost savings as it is about returning relevance to New Jersey’s presidential primary election,” said Cryan (D-Union). “It costs between $8 million to $12 million to hold a separate presidential primary in February, money that, in this economic climate, could be put to much better use than ensuring New Jerseyans can pick their party’s candidate for president on the same day as half the nation.”

The measure now heads to the full Senate for further consideration. Should it receive Senate approval, because of minor amendments such as language regarding mail-in ballots, the bill will have to come back to the Assembly for final concurrence before going to the governor.