North Carolina could soon move up its future primary elections for president and statewide offices in an attempt to wield more influence over the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.
The legislature shifted the state’s 2016 primary from its traditional May date to March, and now is looking to make a March date the permanent fixture.
Having the election cycle early “gives us greater impact as far as the presidential election about having our issues brought up rather than being so late in the process,” said Republican Sen. Andrew Brock, the sponsor of the bill, which cleared a House elections committee Thursday. The bill already was unanimously approved by the Senate in April and heads next to the House floor for debate. If given final legislative approval, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.
Another reason for the change is to sever the state’s connection to South Carolina’s primary date, according to Brock. The last time North Carolina moved its presidential primary to March, the date was tied to South Carolina’s, but South Carolina shifted its primary date, which in turn, “led to number of issues” and created tensions with the national parties, Brock said.
It “threw everything into chaos on our side because their parties set their primary date … which is different from ours,” Brock said.
A March primary would also mean incumbents and potential candidates must decide sooner whether they’ll run. Their notices of candidacy would need to be filed in December.