PLATTSBURGH — New York state is set to help turn Super Tuesday into Super-Duper Tuesday.The state is poised to be the next to join a long list of states that have bumped presidential primaries to Feb. 5.A bill to move the primary date up from March 4 passed both houses of the State Legislature recently.Gov. Elliot Spitzer has indicated that he will likely sign the bill.The move, which would put New York alongside more than 20 other states in an increasingly front-loaded primary, is being looked at positively by local politicians.Leaders said the move gives New York more influence in the primary but most feel an overall change is needed.
"I think it's important to make New York a player," Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said.It forces the candidates to campaign in New York, said Little, who voted in favor of the new primary date.The move to a bigger Super Tuesday is good in the sense that small states no longer shape the start of the primary season, Little said."I think it's better to get the bigger states involved."But she said that, overall, the move to have all the primaries earlier isn't necessarily a good thing and that moving all the states to June might have a positive impact.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) also voted in favor of the bill."I always think of New York as the Empire State," Sayward said, so she feels it's natural for her state to join the states that have already made the move.Sayward said she supports moving New York up only in an already front-loaded primary and that the election system needs change."I think we need to have major reform on the entire process," she said, calling for candidates to have less money and less time to campaign."But that's not in the cards for today."
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) voted for the bill, but said she also had "mixed emotions" about it.She said front-loaded primaries give unfair advantage to some candidates but that, "on the flip side of it, we're not going to stop it.""Hopefully, if people are paying attention and being informed, they will be able to make informed decisions," she said.Duprey felt the move could give a "big boost" to fellow Republican Rudy Giuliani, whose moderate stance includes support of abortion and gay rights.Former governor and even more moderate candidate George Pataki also stands to benefit from an early New York primary.Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak said he has followed the push for early primaries and thinks the move for New York could get more people involved. But, at the same time, it might not do much at all, he said."I don't know if it's going to make much difference having a Super-Duper Tuesday."But he said the trend nationally inhibits opportunity for candidates lacking the deep pockets of some competitors."The more states involved on a primary day, it is clear that the candidates with the most political capital will have an advantage."
But not all are singing praise for the move to push up the New York primary. Rachel Leon, executive director of the advocacy group Common Cause New York, said her organization hadn't taken a stance on the issue, but she raised concern over the move."While I see there are some advantages for New York, it's going to make money more prominent in the presidential campaigns," Leon said.The move makes it harder for those who don't have "early money" to afford airtime in the many media markets that reach the voters in the mega-primary, she said."I wish there was the same amount of effort being put into fixing the presidential primary system as states are putting into moving up the elections," Leon said.
If the governor votes in favor of the new primary date, Clinton County's election commissioners will be prepared for the shift."We'll be ready when they tell us," Republican Election Commissioner Judith Layhee said.Her Democratic counterpart, John Brunell, also said the county would be ready to tally the votes.Both commissioners said they supported the new date. Layhee said she didn't have a problem with it, and Brunell felt the move would allow New York to be more influential in the primary process.