RALEIGH — The N.C. House is set to debate a bill Wednesday to move North Carolina’s 2016 presidential primary date to March 15, 2016. Jones & Blount first reported in June that the N.C. Republican Party had brokered a deal with the General Assembly to move the date back into compliance with national party rules. The state Senate approved the bill unanimously in July, but the House held the bill in committee until it was placed on Wednesday’s calendar Tuesday.
On June 4, outgoing N.C. GOP Chairman Claude Pope told Jones+Blount that the party and legislators had reached an agreement. Moving the date to March 15 would mean sharing a primary date with Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. It would fall exactly two weeks after “Super Tuesday.”
Current law sets the date in February to closely follow South Carolina’s first-in-the-South vote. A February primary would have incurred severe penalties from the national party; the state’s voting delegates to the Republican National Convention would have been slashed from 72 to just 12 representatives.
In 2013, the legislature voted to move the state’s primary day from May to just after South Carolina’s. In April the N.C. House voted to move it back on the primary calendar, but the Senate did not act until July, following Pope’s annoucement of a deal.
Proponents of the earlier date wanted to ensure that North Carolina would share in the national spotlight that accompanies an early primary. With the May date, the nominee is generally known by the time North Carolina Republicans vote.
“We are glad that the Senate has agreed to move to a compliant date,” Pope said at the time he told Jones+Blount about the deal.