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Small update on looming MN political calendar changes

Small update on looming MN political calendar changes
Eric Black

Recent obscure actions in Washington increases the the likelihood of Minnesota moving its primary from the traditional second Tuesday in September up to at least the second Tuesday in August.

These calendar challenges will have substantial effects on the big 2010 race for Guv, but are mostly passing under the radar for now.

(Background paragraph from previous post: The pressure on the primary date comes from a provision in the U.S. Senate version of the Defense Authorization Act that sets a new earlier deadline for states to mail out absentee ballots to armed service members overseas. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has said that if the new deadline for mailing out the overseas ballots passes, his office would not have time to verify primary results, print general election ballots and get them mailed. That will force Minnesota to move up its primary. The Legislature actually passed a bill last year that would have set an August primary, but Gov. Pawlenty vetoed it. Pawlenty now says that if a change is required to comply with federal law, he will sign it.)

So the latest development is that the federal change has passed two more steps and there is no reason to think it won’t become law. When last I wrote about it, it was contained in the Senate version of the must-pass Defense Authorization bill (slipped in there by Sen. Charles Schumer, whose state also has a very late primary date, even later than ours).

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Since then, the bill has gone to conference, the House has acceded to the Senate on the soldier-ballot provision, the bill has passed out of conference committee and has passed in the full House.  All that remains is for the Senate to pass the conference report and Pres. Obama to sign the bill. All lights are green.

State Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) has been promoting a June primary date, but has said that at least for now, the Legislature will move the primary to the second Tuesday in August, which in 2010 would be Aug. 10.

If, as currently expected, the DFL has a seriously contested gubernatorial primary and the Repubs do not, the earlier primary date will presumably help the DFL by giving the party more time to recover from the primary and unite for November.