Although the proposed change may not have much of an impact on giving Pennsylvania voters more say in selecting the state’s presidential nominees, Pennsylvania is exploring moving the state’s 2024 presidential primary to an earlier day.
On Wednesday, state legislators are scheduled to vote on a bill that would move Pennsylvania’s primary from late April to late March. The state is a key battleground in presidential elections, but it hasn’t seen a heated presidential primary since 2008, when Hillary Clinton managed to defeat Barack Obama, who was leading in delegates and who went on to win the Democratic nomination that year, to stay in the race.
While former president Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis have led the early Republican race in a field that is approximately a dozen deep, incumbent president Joe Biden now faces a few Democratic challenges but is anticipated to win his party’s selection.
Pennsylvania’s official date is now the fourth Tuesday in April, which falls on April 23. To give citizens more say over the course of presidential elections, many states desire to hold presidential primaries early. However, a shift would begin Pennsylvania’s normal 13-week primary season during the winter holidays, and lawmakers there have opposed this.
A proposal to move the primary election to March 19 or March 26 may be advanced by a state Senate committee on Wednesday.
Pennsylvania’s primary should be held earlier, when presidential candidates have virtually locked down the delegates they need to clinch the nomination, according to the bill’s author in the Senate.
Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, admitted in an interview that shifting it to any of those dates still leaves several states, notably Super Tuesday primary states on March 5, with significant numbers of delegates before Pennsylvania.
A candidate could secure the delegates required to clinch the nomination by March 19 or, at the very least, put the race beyond doubt. Since April 23 is the first day of Passover, a Jewish holiday when observant Jews often abstain from the same things they abstain from on the Sabbath, such as driving, more politicians are inclined to support a change this year.
Jewish governor Josh Shapiro has stated that he agrees with shifting the date. Under Argall’s proposal, the primary would be held on March 19, the same day as elections in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Kansas.
Nevertheless, other important states with primaries on that day include California, Texas, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. Since it would compel them and other candidates to start collecting signatures for their re-election petitions the week before Christmas, many state lawmakers are opposed to shifting Pennsylvania’s primary date to March 19.
A future revision to the measure would move the election day to March 26. In that case, Pennsylvania would surpass only Wisconsin, Delaware, and Rhode Island, whose primaries are set for April 2.
Separately, Pennsylvania’s primary would be moved to April 2, the first Tuesday following Easter, under a House bill that is anticipated to be considered. Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, the bill’s sponsor, said it would enable lawmakers and other candidates to begin collecting signatures on their re-election petitions the day after New Year’s Day.