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Sat, Oct. 19

Lawmakers not sold on early date for Arizona presidential primary

Senator Kelli Ward

Senator Kelli Ward

Local legislators aren't sure about a recently proposed bill that would move Arizona's presidential primary date from the fourth Tuesday in February to the same date for the Iowa Caucus or the date of the earliest state presidential primary.

The Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary have traditionally served as the earliest contests for candidates seeking their party's nomination for president.

Rep. Sonny Borrelli and Sen. Kelli Ward, both Lake Havasu City Republicans starting their first terms in the Legislature, said they weren't comfortable giving an opinion on HB 2017 without seeing the language. Rep. Doris Goodale, a Kingman Republican, was not available for comment

"I've heard a lot about the bill, but I don't know the reasons why the sponsor of this bill proposed it," Borrelli said. "I don't think it would change the momentum of the presidential primaries, but I don't like to speculate on the reasons behind a bill without talking to its sponsor."

Ward, who just returned from vacation, said she hasn't had a chance to look at any of the proposed bills, including HB 2017.

"I'd have to look at the consequences. I understand trying to make Arizona more important in the presidential race, but there may be unintended consequences," she said.

She pointed out that when Arizona attempted to move its presidential primary in 2012, the state lost half of its delegates at the Republican convention.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Phil Lovas of Peoria, told the East Valley Tribune that his main reason for proposing the bill was to give Arizonans a chance to choose a presidential candidate for their party before the race was narrowed down to two choices.

Arizona State University Dean of Social Sciences Patrick Kenney agreed with Lovas.

"Yes, states that go earlier in the nomination process often have a larger effect on the outcome (of the election) than those states that go later," he said in an email to the Miner.

He also agreed that voters would have a larger pool of candidates to choose from if the primary was moved up.

However, a 2004 study by DePaul University, the University of Arkansas and the University of Nebraska on the effect of the New Hampshire Primary on presidential candidates reveals some interesting results.

According to the study, which was published in Political Research Quarterly, Democrats in contested presidential races typically get more of a bump from the New Hampshire primary than Republican candidates do.

Republican voters tend to stick with whichever candidate from their party is doing well in the polls.

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