In 2008, Virginia, D.C. and Maryland all held their primaries on Feb. 12. It was just one week after "Super Tuesday," when 24 states voted on presidential candidates. But there were no clear front-runners for the party nominations following the Feb. 5 votes, and the Washington region became key for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Forming the Potomac Primary guaranteed the Washington region electoral pull.
|Being considered for 2012 primaries:|
|» Virginia: March 6|
|» Maryland: April 3|
|» D.C.: June 5|
"We'd like to have a regional primary again to help make sure we remain important to the candidates," said David Meadows, executive director of the D.C. Democratic Committee.
But "right now both parties have coordinated what they want to do with the primary calendar because things got out of hand in 2008, " said political scientist Josh Putnam, who tracks the primary calendar on his blog Frontloading HQ. "Now states with primaries scheduled for February are stuck having to change that."
On Feb. 1, Virginia broke ranks. Its Senate passed a bill to set the commonwealth's primary for March 6. If that's the final date, then under the new party rules Virginia's Republican Party will have to change its delegate apportionments from its winner-take-all model to one that distributes them based on the number of votes each candidate receives. If the party doesn't, Virginia risks losing half its delegates at the Republican National Convention.
Meanwhile, Ward 3 D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh has introduced a bill tentatively setting the District's primary for June 5. Gov. Martin O'Malley is "likely" to introduce s bill setting Maryland's primary for April 3, spokesman Shaun Adamec said.
That's the first day new party rules allow for winner-take-all states to vote and, Meadows said, "we're hoping D.C. will join Maryland."
Adamec said, "we'd like to have a regional primary again, and hope the other states join us in April."
Down in Virginia, though, "we didn't think about a regional primary," said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Winchester, who introduced the March 6 bill. "We wanted to have it on the earliest day we could."