Earlier Indiana Primary Could Help Possible Pence Presidential Bid

Jan 12, 2015

Governor Mike Pence speaks to the legislature on the first day of the 2015 legislative session.
Credit Gretchen Frazee / http://www.ipbs.org/

Indiana's May primary comes so late that the state almost never plays a role in choosing the presidential nominees. The Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton contest of 2008 was the first in 24 years to reach Indiana. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says Obama's primary campaign not only brought attention to the state, but helped Obama win the state that November.

Pence's possible candidacy gives Republicans an incentive to move the primary. An earlier Indiana primary might give Pence a chance to grab delegates and attention.  Long says he'd support joining forces with Michigan and Ohio for an early Midwestern primary, similar to the way several Southern states have sought to increase their clout by voting together on Super Tuesday.

But Long says Indiana would need to partner with those states to make it worth doing, and says there's no indication any such discussion is occurring. There's also no indication any legislator plans to introduce a bill to move the primary. Long notes the pro tem, like the House speaker, typically doesn't sponsor legislation himself, with rare exceptions like this year's ethics reform bill.
 
Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) authored a bill to let Pence run for governor and president at the same time, That bill was relegated to a legislative dead end last week. Delph says an early primary deserves discussion, but says he has no plans to introduce a bill.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) introduced a bill back in 2007 to move the primary. He says he still believes it would increase Indiana's clout, but notes the Obama-Clinton battle the very next year weakened his argument the state needed to vote earlier to have a say in the nomination. But Lanane notes an earlier primary would plop the campaign into the middle of the legislative session. For 2016, he says he'll leave it to Republicans to propose any change.