PRESS RELEASE from Pennsylvania State Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny)

CONTACT: Jay Purdy
House Democratic Communications Office

House passes Readshaw early primary bill

HARRISBURG, July 10 – Will Pennsylvania be running with the pack in next year’s presidential primaries or eating dust? The answer now rests with the state Senate after the House of Representatives today approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, that would move up Pennsylvania’s primary election, currently set for April 22, 2008.

Readshaw’s bill (H.B. 289) would pull Pennsylvania’s presidential primary balloting to the second Tuesday in February, which in 2008 would be Feb. 12. The current April date is more than two months after the votes in other delegate-rich states like New York, New Jersey, California and Florida.

Without moving up its date, Readshaw said Pennsylvania’s late primary will be even less important to the presidential contests than in the past because other states have moved up their primaries.

“It is in the best interests of every Pennsylvanian that the presidential candidates come before us and address the issues that are especially important to our electorate,” Readshaw said. “If the competition for convention delegates is essentially over by the time Pennsylvania’s primary rolls around, the need of the candidates to come here is greatly reduced and the impact of the voters of the Commonwealth on the major parties’ choice of presidential nominees will almost certainly be zero.”

Readshaw first introduced legislation to move up Pennsylvania’s presidential primary 10 years ago.

Chances of getting the bill through the Senate in time are narrowing quickly as the summer recess approaches. Readshaw said that if the Senate waits until the fall to approve the measure, it likely will be too late to implement for the 2008 primary.