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Full Senate Approves Codey, Karcher Bill To Move New Jersey To Center Of Presidential Election Debate

TRENTON – By a vote of 33 to 5, the full Senate today approved bill S-2193, sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex), which would move New Jersey’s presidential primary up to early February and give state voters the long-awaited opportunity to help determine the nation’s next presidential candidates.

“New Jersey voters come from diverse social, economic and ethnic backgrounds and, as such, we are a great barometer for the rest of the nation,” said Sen. Codey. “We deserve to be a part of the early primary activity – that limited window of opportunity that plays a crucial role in selecting the party candidates. Moving our primary up to early February will not only give New Jersey voters more bite at the ballot, but it will help ensure that our votes remain relevant in guiding the course of our country for the next four years.”

While he was Governor last year, Sen. Codey sponsored legislation, and signed it into law, moving New Jersey’s primary from June to February 28 in order to make New Jersey’s vote more integral in determining presidential candidates. However, in August the DNC voted to add two new contests to the early window schedule for the 2008 election season. Now, in addition to the already existing New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus, a Nevada caucus and a South Carolina primary have been added to the early calendar.

S-2193, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth, Mercer), would move New Jersey’s presidential primary up to the Tuesday that follows the first Monday in February, sending New Jersey voters to the ballot box on February 5, 2008, the first day the regular primary window opens for all other states. The move would position New Jersey to play an important role in the determination of future presidential candidates.

Sen. Codey noted that during the 2004 presidential election, New Jersey ranked 8th nationally among total donations provided to presidential candidates, while our state was among the last two to vote in the primary. Sen. Codey also pointed out that New Jerseyans contributed over $15 million to the last presidential election, even though the major party nominations were all but sealed up by the time state residents were able to voice their opinion in the June primary.

“Moving our primary up to early February will bring New Jersey back to the center of the national debate on our future,” said Sen. Codey. “It also sends a clear message to Presidential candidates that we are not just an ATM machine to be drawn from after the primary candidates have been chosen.”

Bill S-2193, which Sen. Codey hopes will reverse years of disenfranchisement among New Jersey’s primary voters, now heads to the General Assembly for consideration.

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