Alabama legislators are doing that now.
About a decade ago, Alabama and a few other states wanted more national exposure during campaign season. They wanted more attention from presidential candidates and the national media. So some of them moved their Republican and Democratic presidential primaries up to a date before primaries held in other states. We wanted to be among the first.
Those advocating this approach also claimed that an economic benefit would come from the television and newspaper ads candidates would buy.
Thus, Super Tuesday.
Well, a handful of states did get the attention they wanted. But as is often the case, attention was lavished on the states with the most votes and the most clout. Alabama, which has never been considered a “swing state,” got a visit or two from presidential candidates, and that was about it.
That said, it would seem that the cost of holding an earlier primary (around $4 million) is not worth the gain. At least that is what state Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, believes.
Clouse has introduced a bill that will move Alabama’s presidential primary from February to a date where it can be combined with primaries for state offices.
That’s a good idea — so good, in fact, that a number of other states are considering the same approach.
Almost any primary plan has its disadvantages; bigger states always get the most attention and smaller states, like Alabama, often are lost in the shuffle. The fact remains that the primary system is the best available means for selecting a candidate. It is far superior to the caucus system used in some states where a relative handful of people can dominate the process.
However, in these troubled economic times, spending money on a separate primary does not make good financial sense. The important thing is that voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots and make their wishes known.
Even when primaries are combined, the people still have that.