That Arizona may be part of a multi-Western-state presidential “superprimary” proposed by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman could provide more input from more parts of the nation to how major-party nominees are chosen.
Reform to this process is certainly due. When the major political parties shifted how they chose their presidential nominees from a convention system to a primary system in the early 1970s, it was seen as removing such a decision from the proverbial smoke-filled rooms of a convention hall and into the bright light of direct selection of delegates by voters in the several states.
But the selection process, fed by media saturation, has become front-loaded. A primary system that once began in mid-February and ran through the first part of June every four years is now for all practical purposes over in March. As such, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary reign as the key means of choosing U.S. presidents.
That’s great if you’re from Iowa or New Hampshire. But it isn’t if you’re from the Mountain West, many of whose states are gaining in population. As the Associated Press reported in Monday’s Tribune, Huntsman signed a bill funding a 2008 primary in his state for the first week of February in hopes neighboring states like this one will do the same.
Huntsman’s goal is to make sure presidential candidates shake the Midwestern and Northeastern snows off their shoes long enough to realize that the road to the White House also runs through the politically energizing West. Gov. Janet Napolitano’s spokeswoman, Jeanine L’Ecuyer told the AP the governor backs the idea of a multi-Western-state primary.
As long as the real contest is conducted in February with the nomination all but settled in that month, that’s when more states should be choosing their delegates. Even California, with its largest trove of delegates having long been the jewel of the primary season that once essentially crowned nominees as the last of the primaries in early June, has moved its date to March.
Arizona is now in the middle tier of the Electoral College with 10 electoral votes. It is certain to be eligible for more from the 2010 census. Arizona should follow Utah’s lead and put this state in a position to have a real say in who should be the next president of the United States.