Former Gov. Daniels still backs earlier primary for Indiana

On the first day of early voting, former Gov. Mitch Daniels said he’s pleased that Indiana’s May 3 primary election is likely to matter this year as presidential candidates in both parties battle it out to become their respective nominees.

The problem is that Hoosiers rarely have a primary election that matters, sets the tone for and is publicized as much as earlier states. 

Daniels eight years ago proposed moving the presidential primary to earlier in the year, but his ideas never gained much traction in the Indiana General Assembly because a February or March primary would fall smack dab in the middle of the legislative session. 

“Anything that boosts participation and interest, I’m in favor of,” Daniels, now president of Purdue University, told IBJ on Tuesday. “And of course I’m in favor of Indiana having something to say about the outcome, not every year the same few states dictating to the rest of us who our choices will be.”

Daniels had proposed collecting revenue from presidential candidates, such as a tax on TV ad buys. But as IBJ Managing Editor Lesley Weidenbener pointed out in a recent column, moving up the primary is easier said than done.

But Daniels said he believes it would be worth it.

“My crackpot idea was let’s pass a new law that says we’ll hold our primary or a presidential preference primary on whatever date New Hampshire picks,” Daniels said. “I don’t care if it’s the Fourth of July. With everything else we were always throwing at the legislature, that one never made the cut.”

Early voting started Tuesday and goes until May 2. For more information on that, read reporter Lindsey Erdody’s primer on what voters need to know.

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