State Capitol News
10:14 am
Thu January 3, 2013

AZ Lawmaker Wants Earlier Presidential Primary

A Republican lawmaker wants to be sure voters in the state actually have a real voice in deciding who will run for president in 2016.

Legislation crafted by Rep. Phil Lovas of Peoria would automatically set the date for the state's presidential preference primary on the same day of the Iowa political caucuses. That would force the Hawkeye State to share its current billing as the first political event of the season equally with the Grand Canyon State.

"Quite frankly, for 40-plus years Iowa and New Hampshire have helped essentially determine who is or who is not the nominee for both parties," Lovas said. "And I feel as though Arizona voters are being disenfranchised. And I just think it's wrong for Arizona voters."

Lovas noted nine Republicans participated in Iowa's caucus last January. By the time of Arizona's Feb. 28 primary, not only Iowans had weighed in but so had voters in eight other states. And the field had been pared to just four. Lovas said he expects kickback from the parties to protect Iowa and New Hampshire's special status. But he said both will eventually realize that Arizona is far more important to their long-term interests.

"Democrats want to turn the state a little bit more purple if you will. For Republicans it's important to speak to Latino voters. So I think from both parties' perspective, reaching out to Arizona voters makes a lot of sense," he said.

While current law sets the primary for the last Tuesday in February, the governor does have the power to move it up -- something Jan Brewer threatened last year but never did.