May 21, 2015
Presidential Primary Trade-Off: Worth It?
While we all know political moves always involve trade-offs of some kind, it’s not always easy to figure out just what all those trade-offs are — and what they really mean. Gov. Hutchinson’s special session call now includes a move to change Arkansas’ presidential primary, and all other state/local primaries, from late May to March....
Gov. Hutchinson’s special session call now includes a move to change Arkansas’ presidential primary, and all other state/local primaries, from late May to March. You might think, “Not much effect, so what?”
Arkansas wants to have more impact on the selection of the presidential candidate by moving the primaries into the earliest part of the primary season — but what about our annual legislative sessions each February?
Well, this move also would change the legislative fiscal session in each presidential election year to April — a bad idea for voters and for the state budget.
Arkansas’ fiscal year runs May to June; moving budget deliberations so close to year-end would put excessive pressure on the legislature to smoothly manage its finances. Financial decisions that affect Arkansas government for 2 years would have to be settled within a short 60-day time period!
Administrative maneuvers like invoking very short timelines make it easier for lawmakers to push unwanted policies into place. The result is a chilling effect on taxpayers’ participation in decision-making. The last couple of legislative sessions have exquisitely demonstrated that tactic in action.
It’s even worse for involved voters who actually care about the actions of their elected officials. Voters are at a disadvantage under the revised schedule. Accountability takes a giant step backward.
Holding primaries in May means voters have just seen lawmakers at work during the February-April fiscal session. Knowing how those votes just came down — and how lawmakers advocated for their election platforms — strongly influences both incumbents and challengers in a healthy way.
Holding the fiscal session in April means almost a full year passes before voters go back to the polls. Accountability suddenly becomes much easier for lawmakers.
Moving the primary date is likely to be a huge benefit to Obamacare supporters in the Arkansas legislature.
Because the candidate filing deadline is likely to be before legislators have to go on record to support a new Obamacare plan that could draw out primary candidates who oppose Obamacare.
This is the trade-off: Having more impact on the selection of a national presidential candidate vs. losing more taxpayer citizen accountability.
Is it worth it to you?