Legislation to return the date of the February presidential primary election to June was approved Thursday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
The bill , sponsored by Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, would eliminate the separate presidential primary election held in February and require, instead, that it be held during the regular June primary election, as it was prior to 2005. The move would save approximately $11 million in fiscal year 2012, according to the Office of Legislative Services.
“Everyone thought a February presidential primary would mean that New Jersey would have more influence in the selection process of presidential candidates. But when nearly half of the states in the nation moved their primary as well, it made our change moot. Ultimately, all we were left with was a $12 million bill,” said Norcross. “By moving the primary back to the traditional date for primary elections, we will save millions of dollars in taxpayer money. From an economic standpoint, this is a no-brainer.”
In 2005, state law was changed to establish a separate presidential primary election in February, so that New Jersey could play a larger role in determining the outcome of the nomination process. Despite the move, New Jersey was ultimately among 25 states that held their primaries in February during the 2008 presidential election. The cost of the separate election was $11.8 million.