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Madigan introduces February primary bill

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

Speaker Madigan has introduced his legislation to move the spring primary up six weeks, from March to the first Tuesday in February. Madigan said earlier this month that he wanted the state to play a larger role in the presidential election and felt the move would benefit Barack Obama’s candidacy. The Post-Dispatch has reaction. Initially, Senate President Emil Jones was skeptical, but he’s moving off the dime a bit:

Since then, Jones has endorsed the idea in concept but not Madigan’s bill in specific.

“Conceptually, it benefits the people of Illinois to have an early say in who the presidential candidate is. However, we’re still reviewing the bill,” said Jones spokeswoman Cindy Davidsmeyer.

Madigan’s bill would affect more than just the presidential races. It would move the entire primary election forward, including all federal, state and local races. States like Iowa, in contrast, hold an early presidential caucus, separate from the primary election, to vote only on the presidential races.

“While some states do have two primaries in presidential years, the notion of that kind of change is complicated,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan. “Let’s not make it too complicated for voters: Have them come to the polls once and let their voice be heard.”

Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, while in favor of a larger state role in selecting the next president, said he worried about lengthening a campaign season that he says is too long already.

The Southern Illinoisan editorialized against Madigan’s idea and against the whole frontloaded system in general.

The “problem” isn’t Illinois’ date being too late. The problem is other states being too early.

If anything, the caucuses and primaries should take place later. Many voters are sick of the pre-election hype already. Others aren’t paying attention.

Political-beat reporters don’t help with their constant badgering, asking potential candidates when they will declare their intentions like a bunch of kids on a family vacation asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wants to move Illinois’ 2008 primary election from March 18 to Feb. 5 - in part, to boost the chances of state Sen. Barack Obama.

The primary date shouldn’t be changed to help - or hurt - a person.

But Dan Johnson-Weinberger predicts the bill will become law and he’s for it.

I predict it will be signed into law and I think for 2008, that’s a good thing. For other years (that is, when Barack isn’t running for president), I’d rather have nice weather for elections, as I don’t like walking in the cold, so if it was up to me, I’d move the primary to June or September. And I’d imagine most campaign workers would agree with that sentiment (ignoring the speculation on how cold weather might impact election results).

You can read Madigan’s bill by clicking here. Please, if you have a question about the specific legislation, try reading it first before commenting or simply asking others to do your homework for you.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - publius - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 9:55 am:

    CHICAGO—Mayor Daley today announced the formation of a blue-ribbon civic committee whose purpose is the gain the location of the Obama Presidential Library for Chicago. Fundraising to secure the site will start immediately’ “It will be easier to secure funds now than it will if he happens to lose” said a source who asked for anonimity. Meanwhile Fox News reported that an aide to Hillary Clinton said”This is exactly what we would expect from a maoyr who was known to wear madras when as a boy he attended a religious school named after a middle eastern holy man.” The Sun-Times online reports that Governor Blagojevich’s administration has hired a consultant to explore the possibility of selling the Obama Presidential Library after it is built. Asked to comment Mayor Daley said “What do you want me to do? Take off my pants?

  2. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:05 am:

    I know Obama builds bridges between fighting politicians - can he patch things up between Madigan, Jones and Blagojevich? Here is Madigan presenting a gift to Obama, yet Jones isn’t applauding? Just how much do these guys hate one another?

    Jones needs to support Madigan now and then. They are supposed to be on the same team - or are on the same team to voters. It is sad that Obama’s candidacy can’t even bridge these fighting politicians.

    Yes, the primaries are too distant from the general election. Yes, the 2008 election is too long. But Illinois can’t change that. Instead it must work within the Democratic Party’s schedule. As a major Democratic state offering TWO presidential candidates, we should be heard in 2008. I just wish we didn’t have all this corruption news sprouting up at the same time as the primary season. I shudder to think what we will be reading in the papers around February 2008.

    As to whether we should change a primary date to help a candidate - well, yes we should! Obama and Clinton are our senators, and we should be proud. Move the dates, play with the date, do whatever is needed to get one of our citizens in the White House. Chicago has reasons to be aggressive on this.

  3. - Crimefighter - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    I think it’s just time for one big national primary and then the shifting of dates will no longer be necessary.

  4. - i d - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:38 am:

    I’m with Crimefighter. One national open primary for all offices from village to federal.

  5. - (618) Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:14 pm:

    This is a good bill. I hope it gets passed and signed.

  6. - RMW Stanford - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:16 pm:

    The “problem” isn’t Illinois’ date being too late. The problem is other states being too early

    That is the problem, so many small states have moved there primary dates back in order to increase their influence beyond what they should have their population. While I want Illinois to have a say that actual matters in the primaries, I think that people are over looking the effect that might have local races. By effectively lessing the length of the primary season, this law might benefit incumbents and well know candidates at the expense of less well known candidates who will now have less time to make for the difference in name recognition.

  7. - values matter - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:42 pm:

    Glad to see Madigan and Obama working so closely together. Obama’s going to need all the help he can get to make sure he wins the Illinois primary decisively. Hillary Clinton has some solid support in Illinois.

  8. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:44 pm:

    The Southern Illinoisan is right. Push back the primaries closer to the election.

  9. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:11 pm:

    $250K from the date you declare for ach and every day you are in the race. No wonder Tim Nieukirk could not win. I did buy a ball cap.

  10. - muon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:35 pm:

    In 2006, only two states had a primary before May 1. Last year sixteen states had a primary within 10 weeks of the general election, and 10 weeks is separation Illinois uses for city primaries and general elections. Other early presidential primary states use two primaries in presidential years, so could Illinois.

  11. - NW burbs - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 6:27 pm:

    I’m with RMW.

    I don’t care whether two of the whitest states in the country keep their “first” status or not, but for the love of all that is holy move it all back to June at the earliest.

    Besides, that’ll give both parties more time to discuss the nuances of their respective positions as the candidates for nomination debate the subtleties of their respective proposals.

    Muon, I disagree with splitting the presidential nomination primary from the others. Waste of time, money and space (as polling places need to be found for yet another voting event).

    And appoint state and local judges, enough of this electing people whose entire raison d’etre is supposed to be impartiality.

  12. - Anon - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:29 am:

    AS with everything Madigan, there has to be another angle, doesn’t there? Think about it — a much, much shorter primary season for routine even-numbered year elections, what does that mean? It means less time for challengers to increase their name ID and get their message out to voters. This is good for Madigan in general — statehouse campaigns generally don’t begin to build steam until around filing time. With roughly 8 weeks between filing and the Primary (and the holidays thrown in) rather than the current 14 weeks or so, it gives more power to incumbency and name recognition, making it easier for Madigan’s members in primary challenges.

    In addition, while the campaign season for statewides will be extended because of the nature of the campaigns and the offices involved, it still will generally shorten the Primary season and give an advantage to a certain current statewide officeholder with good name recognition who might look to move up to governor in 2010.

  13. - swede - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 12:30 pm:

    I’m happy to see Madigan helping Senator Obama. Has Obama commented on Madigan’s bill?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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