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(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, received final legislative approval Wednesday.

The bill was approved 78-0 by the Assembly, and 39-0 by the Senate. It now goes to the governor for approval.

“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 Assembly previously approved the bill in May, and concurred Wednesday with recent amendments passed by the Senate.