Dick Spotswood: New state law moves up primary elections

Opinion | Marin Independent Journal | October 3, 2017


California voters have long felt excluded from the presidential candidate selection process. Our early June primary is at the tail end of the season, making it meaningless. Each party’s presidential nominee is determined long before California goes to the polls.

In the 1990s an attempt was made for the Golden State to play a more prominent role in the process by scheduling its presidential primaries in March. When other eager states jumped the queue even further by scheduling their voting as early as January, the Golden State change was scrapped as futile.

Hope springs eternal. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law SB 568, again moving up California’s consolidated primary to early March on “Super Tuesday.”

The new date for primary elections, also known as first-round voting under California’s top-two system, applies to all elections. The word “consolidated” means that races for Marin County supervisor, city councils, judges, special-purpose district directors and school trustees now set for the “primary” are also moved from the first Tuesday (after the first Monday) in June to the first Tuesday (after the first Monday) in March of even-numbered years.

To the relief of those pondering a run for town council or county supervisor in 2018, the law isn’t effective until 2019. That gives potential candidates sufficient time to conduct their due diligence, line up supporters, raise funds and meet voters.

Columnist Dick Spotswood of Mill Valley writes about local issues on Wednesdays and Sundays. Email him at spotswood@comcast.net.