Lawmakers in the state House on Wednesday put on hold a bill that would have set up two primaries this spring – one on March 15 for presidential candidates and a second, in May, for other statewide offices.
Now, legislators are considering combining the primaries into the March date as a cost saving measure.
The action Wednesday was unexpected, as lawmakers had seemed set on the separate primaries.
The Senate had already voted to set a March 15 presidential race and it was seen as an important factor in keeping North Carolina in the national mix as candidates visit states and seek attention from voters.
But the House lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday not to go along with the Senate plan, and began laying groundwork for all primaries in March.
Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, said that lawmakers will look at saving an estimated $4 million to $6 million by holding all primary elections in March as well.
He added that there is a technical issue in the Senate bill language, discovered recently, regarding early voting days.
Asked whether moving all the primaries to the same day would limit campaign ad air time for the lower level races, Lewis said that was something that has been a concern from the beginning and was a reason for the separate primaries.
“We want to take one more look at the balancing act between the cost to hold two separate primaries and the accessibility, if you will, for the lower ballot races to be heard,” Lewis said.