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Senate Committee Approves Codey, Karcher Bill To Move Presidential Primary To Early February

TRENTON – The Senate State Government Committee today approved bill S-2193, sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) and Senator Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth, Mercer), which would move New Jersey’s presidential primary up to early February in light of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) decision to add two new contests to the early window schedule for the 2008 election season.

“For too long, presidential candidates have come to New Jersey to seek our money but not our votes because it’s always been too late. With many critical decisions facing our nation right now, we deserve to have more of a voice in selecting the person who will guide our country through these tenuous times,” said Sen. Codey. “Moving our primary up to early February will not only give us more bite at the ballot, but it will also bring New Jersey back to the center of the national debate on our future.”

“New Jersey’s more than 2 million registered party voters have been disenfranchised by a national primary schedule that minimizes our role in presidential politics,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “Our last-in-the-nation primary has turned the Garden State into nothing more than an ATM for presidential candidates seeking their party’s nomination. We need to assert our relevance, and we need a presidential primary that empowers New Jersey voters.”

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 a Nevada caucus and a South Carolina primary to the early calendar, in addition to the already existing New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus.

S-2193 would move New Jersey’s presidential primary up to the Tuesday that follows the first Monday in February, which would send 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.

During his testimony before the committee today, 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. He presented this statistic to the committee today to illustrate the point 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.

Sen. Karcher also noted during her testimony that although New Jersey is the tenth most populous state, it ranks last in terms of clout in a presidential primary. Bill S-2193, which would help reverse years of disenfranchisement among New Jersey’s primary voters, now heads to the full Senate for approval.

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