News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


National lottery might resolve primaries issue

If presidential candidates read anything into Alabama politics, it should be that the state is craving their attention.

But so are voters in other states who resent Iowa, New Hampshire and newcomer South Carolina grabbing so much attention because they lead off the presidential marathon.

Getting their attention is one of the rare bipartisan events to come from the Alabama Legislature. Both Democrats and Republics are dedicated to muscling in on the presidential party after holding June primaries when the nominations were pretty much established.

The state has a new date of Feb. 5 for the primaries, but that interferes with Mardi Gras' Fat Tuesday holiday along the Gulf Coast. Feb. 5 also bunches Alabama in with other want-to-be states vying to be one of the early deciders of which candidates can withstand the pitfalls of the grueling campaign.

Now, the Legislature is set to move the date to Feb. 2, a Saturday, to avoid conflict with the holiday and to get nestled close behind South Carolina, which would put the state in fifth position. The risk, however, is some of the other states, including populous California and Illinois, may also pick Feb. 2. Then there are the states already announced for Feb. 5. The picking of dates gets complicated.

Allowing Iowa and New Hampshire and a few more states to set the tone for the presidential primaries year in, year out isn't good national politics.

Primaries and caucuses are ideal ways for voters to get a chance to know candidates. Asking them to be in too many states at the same time changes that intimacy.

The solution to this growing problem may be to rotate the dates for primaries or to choose primary dates by lottery.

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