Enough with the Iowa Caucus. Bring on the Great Lakes Primary!

Before the debacle with the Iowa caucuses this week, many people – including myself – questioned the wisdom of having the state continue to hold the first primary contest each presidential cycle. Candidates to replace Iowa are already coming forward. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker made his pitch for why the Land of Lincoln should be first in line:

If you click through to the NPR article, Illinois looks pretty promising based on certain metrics.

Since I’m about to return to Illinois after several years abroad, naturally I like this idea. Who wouldn’t want presidential candidates fawning over them? That’s power!

But of course, any one state getting that kind of advantage is really kind of ridiculous. In some sort of perfect world, there would be a national primary. But I’ll admit a personal element would be lost. It would become a carnival of TV and online ads and stadium events – just like the general election.

A compromise could be regional primaries – groups of related states all going at once. For example, the Great Lakes states – Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan – could all coordinate their schedules. Candidates would still have only a portion of the country to visit, and they could address the issues common to those states. I’d leave it to the other states to sort out their groupings, but natural ones seem to be northeast, south, plains, southwest, mountain, and west coast. If having large groups of states go all at once sounds like too much for a campaign, recall that Super Tuesday involves fourteen states in every corner of the country (as well as a territory and overseas Democrats).

Bottom line, as a proud Midwesterner, I’d like to see more focus on our states and issues. If the Great Lakes states can work together to coordinate their primary schedules, that’s one step toward that goal.

And of course, we should go first.

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