HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A bill is moving through Pennsylvania’s legislature to move up the state’s primary election date.
Senate Bill 779 would change Pennsylvania’s primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the third Tuesday in March, starting 2024. The new date would only apply to presidential election years.
This year, Pennsylvania’s primary will be held on April 28th.
“This year, we’re the last big state to have a primary,” said Sen. John Gordner (R), the bill’s primary sponsor. “We should have much more influence in regard to who the presidential candidates are going to be.”
The new date would be two weeks after Super Tuesday. Gordner says that many of the states that vote on Super Tuesday get lost in the shuffle, so this date would keep Pennsylvania in the spotlight.
“The date I picked, it would be Illinois, Florida, ourselves, and Arizona,” Gordner said. “So it would be a limited number of states. And when you throw us in with Florida and Illinois, that’s going to be a pretty substantial day for the candidates to come and want to make sure they grab the attention of the voters.”
17 states will vote between now and Pennsylvania’s primary. Jim Lee with Susquehanna Polling & Research says those states appear to be almost evenly split between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
That could mean that a late primary makes Pennsylvania even more important in deciding the nominee.
“The separation between them in delegates is only 75, so there’s clearly enough playing field left for Bernie Sanders to say, ‘This thing is far from over,'” Lee said. “By the time we roll around on the 28th of April, we could be a pivotal state and we have a couple hundred delegates at stake here. So, it’s not unreasonable to think that Pennsylvania could matter.”
Senate Bill 779 unanimously passed the Senate and is now in the House.