Each week former New Jersey State Assemblymen and former gubernatorial candidates John Wisniewski (Democrat) & Jack Ciattarelli (Republican) will tackle New Jersey's most pressing issues. This week: New Jersey's late Presidential Primary

On the Democratic side, there more than 20 candidates running for President -- there might be some very crowded state primaries. On the Republican side, several states have moved to cancel their presidential primary as a show of support for President Trump. No matter what happens this primary season will be one for the history books.

New Jersey has its primary for elections the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. While this works for state elections, we are put at a real disadvantage in deciding who should be the presidential candidate. Whether it's the Democratic or Republican presidential primary, by the time June comes around, both parties after Iowa, New Hampshire, and the multi-state Super Tuesday primary have largely chosen their nominees. 

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Question: Is it time for New Jersey to 'get in the game', and permanently move up our presidential primary?

John:

The Presidential Primary system is broken and needs to be fixed. New Jersey shouldn’t change its Primary Election date to participate and further perpetuate a broken system. It ought to lead the way in creating a new system.

Our Presidential Primary System is ridiculously long and getting longer. In the four most recent Presidential contests, candidates launched their campaign on an average of 1 year and 7 months before the election. While we all hope the public will pay sufficient attention to choosing a President during those 19 months, we all know that the public will eventually lose interest after a while. Campaigns, out of necessity, become endurance contests of staying relevant in the voter’s minds instead of a thoughtful
discussion about who is best suited to lead us.

There is also no practical reason why Iowa and New Hampshire are the first two contests every four years. The 57 states, districts, territories, or other constituencies that participate in selecting the nominee ought to rotate the dates on which they hold their contests. In that way, the first will eventually be last. And the last, New Jersey, will eventually be first.

Jack: 

Forty-six states hold their primary prior to ours (i.e., first Tuesday after the first Monday in June). This makes New Jersey a non-factor in choosing presidential nominees. New Jersey already being dead last or next to last in far too many things, moving up the primary date is something I would wholly support.

Moving up our primary date would certainly make our state more influential and relevant in presidential politics. Having a presidential primary in February or, at the latest, ‘Super Tuesday’ (i.e., first Tuesday in March) would also have the very positive effect of driving greater voter participation.

There are two options to consider in making this switch. Option 1 would be to simply move our primaries up to an earlier date as suggested above. Option 2 would be to move up only the Presidential primary date every four years. Option 2 would be more costly, but the added cost would be more than paid for by the revenue generated by presidential candidates who would need to spend campaign dollars in New Jersey.