April Fools! Next year's primary may be moved back a couple months.
A group of D.C. legislators introduced a bill today that would push back the date of the city's 2014 primary, moving it from April 1 to mid-June.
Citing concerns over the eight-month lag between the primary and November general election and the schedule candidates have to abide by in order to qualify for the April ballot, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) were joined by Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large) in pushing the measure, which would move the primary from the first Tuesday in April to the second Tuesday in June.
"The District is new to having an April primary," said Mendelson, citing the 2011 change that moved the primary from its traditional September date to April, allowing it to coincide with the 2012 presidential primary.
That move was spurred by a federal law requiring that service members and other overseas voters be afforded a certain amount of time to receive and cast absentee ballots. Still, it upset the well-worn dynamics of many local political races — candidates complained that they were left to campaign in the bitter cold, instead of at the many neighborhood parades that take place in the balmy summer months. Additionally, losing candidates were left to serve as lame ducks for close to eight months.
"Now that we've had some practice with this, what we see is that this is hard on a lot of candidates to be campaigning during the winter and to be campaigning in part during the holidays. It makes it difficult for challengers; incumbents always have some advantage," said Mendelson.
Not all council members are on-board — some say that they don't want to change the rules in the middle of the game and that the council punted on a June primary when it last had a chance to pick a new date.
Next year's D.C. primary will feature candidates for mayor, council chair, attorney general, Ward 1, Ward 3, Ward 5, Ward 6, and an At-Large member.