Redoing the Primary System: Rotating Regionals?


Lamar Alexander, like many people, is upset with the primaries-gone-wild fiasco we’ve seen recently: too many states are moving too far up the calendar, leading to a front-loaded campaign that favors big money candidates and necessitates frenetic campaigning years before the election. What’s the alternative? A rotating regional primary system:

Alexander said the model for federal legislation is based on a 1999 bill that Lieberman co-wrote that would have created a regional primary system. That bill would have created a system of four rotating regions, with a cluster of 13 mid-Atlantic and Northeast states voting on the first Tuesday of March, with a southern group of states going the first Tuesday of April, a Midwest group the first Tuesday of May and a Mountain West and far West group going last, the first Tuesday of June.

The next election, the order would be rotated so that no region would always go first. That bill, which was referred to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, went nowhere legislatively speaking.

The states would likely hate this idea, because it takes control away from them, and in a body where a single senator can hold up legislation, the lawmakers from New Hampshire and Iowa would make sure it doesn’t go anywhere. But at least someone’s doing some thinking on the issue.

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