Archive for Sunday, January 12, 1992

S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY IN LIMBO

January 12, 1992

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If the state won't fund its April 7 presidential preference primary, the statute mandating the election should be taken off the books and the primary canceled, three local legislators said Saturday.

The state's fiscal situation has put the primary, expected to cost between $1.3 million to $1.8 million, in limbo.

State law requires the primary, but its cost may move lawmakers early in the 1992 session, which begins Monday, to repeal the statute and cancel the primary.

"There will be some in the legislature who will want to repeal the presidential primary," Rep. John Solbach, D-Lawrence, said. "Unless it's repealed, it will go on, funded (by the state) or not."

If the primary is not repealed and the Legislature refuses to appropriate state funds to pay for it, counties would be required to conduct and pay for the primary.

Rep. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, said she doesn't believe local governments should be forced to foot the bill for the primary.

"IF WE DON'T fund it, I don't think we should have it," Praeger said. "We can't put the burden on the counties."

Rep. Betty Jo Charlton, D-Lawrence, agreed.

"We've got to fund it if we're going to have it because the counties simply can't afford it," she said.

Charlton said the state's fiscal situation "has changed for the worse since we passed it (the primary)."

"Often we have dilemmas like that," she said. "By definition, a dilemma can't be solved. I don't see any way to compromise on this issue."

Gov. Joan Finney and Secretary of State Bill Graves both have expressed support for a presidential primary.

LOUISE SILBER, chairwoman of the Douglas County Democratic Central Committee, said local Democrats are trying to make preparations if the primary is repealed.

"We don't want to be scrambling," Silber said.

If the Legislature repeals the primary, Silber said a party caucus would take place March 21 to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

She said she favors a primary because more people usually turn out for it at the polls, but she said the caucus process attracts dedicated people the party can call on later for help.

Caucuses are much more time-consuming and require a lot of dedication, she said.

"One advantage of a caucus is that you have to be very motivated and willing to spend several hours in a meeting. The people who turn out for a caucus tend to be very interested in the process," Silber said.

She said she would like to see the state hold a primary but understands the "fiscal crunch" may not allow it.

CHRIS MILLER, chairman of the Douglas County Republican Central Committee, said local Republicans still are assuming a presidential primary is going to occur.

"We've haven't made plans to have a caucus," he said. "If it's necessary to do that, we'll set it up at that time."

Because "we've done caucuses in the past," it shouldn't be difficult to put one together if the primary is canceled, Miller said.

So far, Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey is the only major candidate from either party to file for a spot on the Kansas primary ballot. The filing deadline is noon Feb. 7.

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