Brock wants presidential primary in March

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2011

By Karissa Minn
N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock filed a bill Monday to move up North Carolina’s presidential primary from May to March.
“We would have an opportunity for input on the front end of elections instead of the back end,” Brock said. “May 2008 was the last time on the Democrat side, but the last time Republicans really had input in a primary here was in 1976 with Reagan vs. Ford.”
Senate Bill 440 would place the primary on the first Tuesday in March, changing current law that schedules it on the Tuesday following the first Monday in May.
Brock, a Republican who represents Rowan and Davie counties, has introduced similar bills in the past two sessions with a February date. He said he chose the next month this time to avoid upsetting the Republican and Democratic national parties.
He said he first got the idea to move the primary about a decade ago. A friend who works in elections told him people expect to talk to the next president in New Hampshire and Iowa — the states with the earliest presidential primary and caucus, respectively.
“Especially when we were losing tobacco, textiles and furniture in North Carolina, it would have been good to have input on what was going on,” Brock said.
He said the earlier primary would increase voter involvement and turnout by giving them input before party nominations are all but decided. In addition, the cost of moving it would be outweighed by its economic impact, Brock said.
“South Carolina has built its (January) primary into something well attended by presidential candidates,” he said. “We see candidates come to North Carolina to raise money, and then they go to South Carolina to spend it.”
Brock said North Carolina is now considered a battleground state and will be an attractive place for campaigning, so those dollars could be spent here.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.