BOISE — Lawmakers will consider moving Idaho's primary election to August under legislation that was introduced Thursday in the House State Affairs Committee.
The panel introduced the bill a day after the Idaho Supreme Court rejected the state's newest map for redrawing legislative districts.
Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher of Iona, chairman of the affairs committee, favors shifting the primary to a later date because it will shorten the general election campaign season. Loertscher's bill will now go before the panel for a hearing.
The primary was moved from August in 1980 and is now held on May 15, which made for a longer general election campaign season, Loertscher said.
"The political season was extended in Idaho, which in my personal opinion is not a good thing," he said.
The move created a lot of dilemmas for incumbent candidates who already have a full plate with legislative business, making it difficult for them to raise money and campaign, Loertscher said. His bill would return the primary to the Tuesday of the first full week in August, with candidates filing for office from May 21 to June 1.
This year, that date falls on Aug. 8.
Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, countered that the move may not result in a shorter campaign season for candidates in contested races in both the primary and general elections. The typically low-key campaigning in the summer months that now follow the May primary could become a thing of the past, Anderson said.
"This change would actually prolong your campaign because you'd be running all the way to August," said Anderson, who still voted to introduce the bill.
The delayed primary would also give Idaho election officials a reprieve after the Idaho Supreme Court invalidated the state's new redistricting map, Loertscher said. The decision will send the bipartisan committee that developed the redistricting plan back to work, and with a tight deadline as the election season looms.
With every seat in the Idaho Legislature up for grabs this fall, candidates can begin filing paperwork to run starting Feb. 27, with a deadline of March 9.