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Debating The Date For Pennsylvania's Primary Elections

If approve, legislation in the Pennsylvania statehouse would move the primary date from April to March.
We get no attention politically and none of the economic advantages of having the traveling show come through Pennsylvania. - Charlie Gerow

A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking to push the state’s primary elections a month earlier to ensure that voters have what they believe would be more of a say in the next presidential nominee. Since the 1950s during presidential election years, Pennsylvania’s primary elections have been held mid-April, meaning by the time ballots are tallied, both the Democratic and Republic parties have typically already chosen their nominee. House Bill 1318 proposes pushing the primary to mid-March, along with the primaries of Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.

Quantum Communications CEO and political consultant Charlie Gerow favors the move.  He contends that placing Pennsylvania among other significant primaries will bring relevance to the state.

“We get no attention politically and none of the economic advantages of having the traveling show come through Pennsylvania,” Gerow told Tribune Review reporter and Essential Pittsburgh guest host Andrew Conte.

He believes the change would look like the elections of 2008 when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama put the Commonwealth in the national spotlight for several weeks.

Political consultant Bill Green doesn’t see how the move will be advantageous for Pennsylvania.

“Coming off a very front loaded schedule of primaries, I think to add a state of this size to that group…does not give us significance, but gives us less significance,” Green said.

With a growing number of presidential candidates on both sides, Green doesn’t see Pennsylvania becoming irrelevant.  Instead, he thinks candidates will want to spend time organizing, touring and campaigning in the state.  

While candidates run for the nation’s top seat, in Pennsylvania half of the state Senate, the entire Statehouse and all 19 Congressmen will be running campaigns.  The current primary is scheduled for April 26th and the proposed change would move it to March 15th.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm
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