Friday, August 26, 2005

One Edgar lesson: we should move the primary to June.

It strikes me that Jim Edgar has at least one good point: there isn't a compelling reason for a presumptive nominee to decide whether to run for office in August, a full 14 months before the general election. That's a fairly dumb way to choose our leaders, forcing all of us to lock in our choices well before the actual election -- and before the fourth year of session even begins! Why are we spending so much time and energy on the 2006 election in the summer of 2005? These campaigns are far too long.

If we moved our March primary up to June (or even got radical and followed Minnesota's lead and moved the primary to September), then the filing deadline for the primary would be moved up to March or July (respectively) of 2006. And then Edgar's decision (and everyone's decision) would wait until a few months before that date. That would shorten campaigns and allow more attention to be paid to governing. I think that would be a good thing.

I do think that the aura of invincibility around Jim Edgar is more memory than actual current strength. It's not like Dawn Clark Netsch ran an aggressive campaign against Edgar in 1994. I remember her appearance at the University of Illinois, and her detached, bemused intelligence did not really resonate with the college crowd. Rod Blagojevich's campaign will be sharp, disciplined and effective, and the unity expressed at Democrat Day is real. I predict a full and successful effort to re-elect a Democratic governor. He might be a little frustrating to legislators at times, but he signs just about every good bill that the General Assembly passes -- and there are a ton of those great bills. That's the main thing.


cal skinner said...

My first primary election was on June 13, 1966. It is a most appealing month for non-incumbents...which is why it won't be selected again.

Vasyl said...

I've noted there is a general consensus about moving the primary to a later date, but the consensus breaks down over the details.

Also, if we move the primary to June (or any other date), that means we have to decide what to do with the presidential primaries.

As for the substance, I'm not quite certain that having an early primary is a bad thing. Sure, it makes it difficult for a last-minute challenger to file. On the other hand, by having early filing dates we know that everyone who files has made a commitment to serve -- impulsive candidacies are weeded out.

I also like that the long time between a primary and the general allows time to heal from a primary squabble -- alowing voters to really focus on the difference between the general election candidates rather than stew over the intra-party family squabble.

And, I'd add that moving the primary will not necessarily shorten the election season. Gidwitz is already airing election ads a year before the election; that won't change.

The bottom line is that there is not perfect time for an election. September primaries make it more difficult for a party to survive a contested primary, and might result in party leadership working hard to squelch primaries. March primaries lead to a long election season. In my mind, there's not a clear-cut choice between early and late primaries.

dazednamused said...

Interesting, Cal. I didn't know that Illinois used to have June primaries.

Illinois needs to do something about the timing of our presidential primary. We have become a non-player for far too long. Add to it that Illinois has not been competitive in the general election for president means that Illinois voters have not played a meaningful role recently in selecting our commander-in-chief.

Anonymous said...

Minnesota's not alone -- Connecticut has September primaries, too. And Illinois allows just 5-6 weeks between municipal primaries and generals. Sure, there are arguments either way, but kudos for broaching the issue.

DownLeft said...

Having a March primary used to make Illinois relevant for Presidential elections. Now, so many other states have moved their primary up in the calendar that Illinois no longer matters. If we're going to be irrelevant in the Presidential primary anyway, we might as well move it back further.

Or, have a seperate early primary just for President and the primary for all other offices could be moved back. There are at least one or two states doing that.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I think a fall primary makes a lot of sense. Contested primaries are fine and parties can heal quickly -- look how fast Paul Vallas and Roland Burris endorsed Rod Blagojevich in 2002. Obama is a little different since it was such a commanding victory, but everyone endorsed him as well. I don't think that reuniting a fractured party is that big of a concern. And sure, one can't stop someone from airing ads early, but a later primary will create a shorter campaign season since most people will only pay attention after the filing deadline. The presidential primary process needs to be overhauled. Those are *way* too early. It would be nice if Illinois could get behind some of the reform proposals to set up a more reasonable primary schedule.

Anonymous said...

two-party, split govt - where one part controls the legislature and hte other the executive branch - is kind of appealing to me.

where does Edgar stand on progressive income taxes? you might have a better chance of getting this passed if you like for allies outside the democrat party (in addition to democrats).

Anonymous said...

"look" not "like"

respectful said...

Good luck getting the primary date moved unless Speaker Madigan sees some advantage to doing so. As far as Edgar goes, he's on record supporting education funding reform, while G-Rod is opposed. Might tempt the teachers unions to endorse Edgar.

respectful said...

Kirk Dillard has a guest column in Capitol Fax for Aug. 29 comparing G-Rod and Edgar. Predictably, G-Rod comes out on the short end.

Anonymous said...

Not directly related to this topic but related to IL state govt:

What kind of endowments exist for state universities? How is it managed and invested?

I am somewhat familiar with the Univ of IL. I am much less familiar with Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western, IL State and others.

A lot of corporations have matching programs for alumni. Over long periods of time this can make a difference.

This does not excuse state funding.

Anonymous said...

One more:

you also might look into private sector support and collaboration for technical and vocational training programs as well.