Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson wants to move the state’s next presidential primary to an earlier date.
The Republican sent a letter on Wednesday to legislative leaders and Gov. Kate Brown seeking their help in making such a change, which Richardson’s office says would require legislative approval.
Oregon holds its presidential primary in mid-May, on the same date as its primaries for state offices. That places it fairly late in the election cycle, which began on Feb. 1 in 2016. By the time Oregon voters selected Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump on May 17, very few states had yet to vote.
In his letter, Richardson doesn’t specify a date for the Oregon primaries. But he writes that “an election date change could elevate Oregon’s priorities in the national discussion and give Oregonians more access to presidential candidates.”
Oregon isn’t the only western state considering a change. California lawmakers could soon vote on a proposal to move the state’s primary to early March. In 2016, California was one of the only states to hold its presidential primary after Oregon. In Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman asked lawmakers this year to consider making a similar change. That effort fell short.
Richardson said in his proposal that “candidates for all non-presidential offices would continue to be nominated in the May election.” That would avoid the scenario of holding a primary for state legislative candidates immediately following the legislative session that is held in February of even-numbered years. But it would also mean the state would bear the expense of holding an entirely separate election solely for the purpose of selecting the presidential nominees.