Three more states aim to join Georgia bid for SEC primary in '16

Secretary of State Brian Kemp's efforts to forge an "SEC" presidential primary for Southern states is gaining steam.

His counterparts in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama have sent over letters indicating their support for setting March 1 as a new regional primary in 2016. He's also working with election officials in Louisiana and South Carolina to coordinate the timing.

Kemp writes that the bloc voting would mean "voters of the Southeast will have a major impact in the selection of presidential nominees of both parties." That means more big-name candidates could visit the South to curry favor with voters.

In Alabama, where the primary date is now set at March 8, Secretary of State Jim Bennett wrote Kemp that he would work with his successor and lawmakers to "see that the goal of changing that date to March 1 is accomplished."

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin said "conversations to help bring this to fruition have already begun," and that lawmakers are "very interested in the possibility of making this happen."

And Mississippi's Delbert Hosemann scrawled a note affirming: "We will pass March 1st. Everyone on board in the Legislature."

You can find your copies of the letters here.

They would join a growing crowd holding their primaries on that date. Tennessee, Texas and Florida already plan to open their polls on March 1, 2016, as have a few key non-SEC states.

But don't count on every Southern state joining.

Louisiana has scheduled its primary on March 5, a Saturday, and its unclear whether lawmakers would want to shift it.

And South Carolina is slated to be the first Southern state to hold a primary, and will likely fight to preserve that spot.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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