Home>Campaigns>Hugin backs early N.J. presidential primary in 2024

Bob Hugin at a press conference on Aug. 23, 2018. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe.)

Hugin backs early N.J. presidential primary in 2024

GOP state chairman wants New Jersey to be more relevant in selection of Republican nominee for president

By David Wildstein, October 07 2022 12:35 pm

Republican State Chairman Bob Hugin supports Gov. Phil Murphy’s bid to move the 2024 New Jersey presidential primary to earlier in the cycle as a way of expanding the state’s relevance.

“I am very supportive of that,” said Hugin, stressing that he was voicing a personal position and not on behalf of his party.

Murphy and Democratic State Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. have asked the Democratic National Committee move New Jersey’s spot on the calendar from June to possibly February or March.

Hugin agrees.

“ I don’t think we want to compete with New Hampshire and Iowa and places like that,” the GOP leader said.  “But I think New Jersey voters are much better served when they’re earlier in the primary process.”

On the Democratic side, twenty states sought early primary dates, including what are considered the incumbents: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.   Many Democrats want Iowa replaced, citing the state’s lack of diversity and their dismal performance in counting votes in 2020.

The DNC has eliminated applications from New York and Nebraska, but New Jersey has made it into the next round, along with Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.

According to Hugin, New Jersey doesn’t need to be among the first five states, just early enough in the process to matter.

“I think the presidential voters of New Jersey be well served by moving into the March time frame, something like that, so that their vote matters,” Hugin said on a conference call with reporters today.

More Republicans would participate in an early primary than one that occurs after a candidate has already clinched the nomination, Hugin stated.

“I think it engages people in the political process.  We need more people to vote,” said Hugin.  “The problem with our system and our country is that we’ve ended up with too many gerrymandered districts that are not competitive in the general election.”

Hugin said that New Jersey could help both parties “ensure that we don’t have extreme people.”

Mahen Gunaratna, a Democratic strategist and Murphy’s former communications director, said that “leaders from both sides of the aisle know that strong nominees emerge when parties modernize their nominating calendars.”

“Chairman Hugin’s comments demonstrate clear bipartisan support for advancing New Jersey’s position in the presidential primary process,” he said.  “As Governor Murphy and Chairman Jones have said all along, New Jersey’s geographic and demographic diversity, compactness, and strong voting laws make it a great fit for an earlier slot.”

A  Monmouth University Poll released in April shows a majority of New Jerseyans, 52%-34%, support an earlier primary.

New Jersey moved its presidential primary from June to March in 2008; more than 1.14 million ballots were cast in that election with a 35% statewide turnout.  Turnout was 7% in June 2012, and 26% in June 2016 and 2020.

Any move to change the presidential primary date would need approval of the legislature and Murphy.

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