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Bill would delay Idaho’s primary from May to August

BOISE - Idaho lawmakers on the House State Affairs Committee voted unanimously this morning to introduce two bills dealing with this year’s primary election: One from committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, to delay the state’s primary from May to August while also doing away with the presidential primary; and one from Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to just do away with the presidential primary; it no longer serves any purpose since both parties now choose their presidential delegates by caucuses.

Loertscher said he favors the shift of the primary to the later date because the move back in 1980 from August to May made for more months of campaigning. “The political season was extended in Idaho, which in my personal opinion is not a good thing,” Loertscher said.

Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, said the change may not shorten campaigning for those who have contested races in both the primary and general elections. “In the past I’ve had both, and it seemed like at least … June, July and August were kind of mild, you weren’t out there actually beating the bushes to garner support as you would be, I think, under this scenario.” Nevertheless, he voted to introduce the bill, which now can be scheduled for a full hearing before the committee.

Loertscher noted yesterday’s Idaho Supreme Court decision overturning the current legislative redistricting plan, and said pushing the primary election back to August would give Idaho election officials and county clerks a reprieve from a tight time frame; under current schedules, candidate filing for the primary starts Feb. 27. “That pinches county clerks quite a bit,” Loertscher said. Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, responded, “Yeah, the timing of this draft legislation is impeccable.” But he questioned whether counties would face a time crunch at the other end in the new schedule, with less time between the August primary and November general elections.

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