If House Bill 509 by Reps. Nita Hutter, R-Chalmette, and Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, becomes law the state's presidential primary will be held on the first Saturday following the first Tuesday in March. The primary now is held on the second or third Saturday in February, depending on the Carnival parade calendar.
Why is this significant? First, it makes Louisiana GOP battleground. As it stands, Louisiana is mired in the early-but-not-significant category of primary states. Currently, the Gret Stet is scheduled several weeks after the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and a week after "Super Tuesday." This gives the GOP candidates little reason to make Louisiana a priority.
Second, depending on who you believe will be the strongest GOP candidate against President Obama (and we believe it will be flip-flopping Willard "Mittens" Romney), scheduling Louisiana later could have repercussions on the nomination itself. We believe Romney is a weak candidate in Louisiana. More early failures could derail a frontrunner and disrupt the field. However, giving the candidates reason and time to campaign in Louisiana might also have negative consequences for Mittens. A hard-fought primary in our State might propel a crazier candidate (like, I don't know, Michele Bachmann?) forward and prolong the nomination.
Moving the primary to make Louisiana a marquis GOP might sound nice, but it's also a financial drain for the state. We have enough elections already, and millions of dollars to hold a partisan primary on an independent date doesn't exactly sound conservative.
All in all, this issue has gotten scant attention from the press, which is unfortunate. It bears further exploration due to the potential impact it has, not only locally, but also nationally.
Our view? If you want to see a bloody GOP primary that rallies the tea bag troops and costs the State a tremendous amount of money, let's move the date. Otherwise, let's drop this wasteful legislation.