Arkansas Democrats Favor Calendar Change for State Primary

Senator John Kerry is likely to be heading back to his home state of Massachusetts in July for the Democratic Convention in Boston. There Kerry probably will be accepting his parties' nomination. But is he the choice for Arkansans?

"With General Wes Clark, if our primary had been in February and he carried Arkansas and Oklahoma, he might have been in a completely different primary," said Charles Willis the Greene County Chairman for the State Democratic Party.

Willis believes it would be beneficial for Arkansas to up its primary date.

"In national primaries Arkansas' irrelevant," said Willis. "Now in November we're very important, we're a swing state."

Arkansas' primary falls on May 18th. Alabama, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota are the only states with later contests. Back in 1988, Arkansas joined with some other southern states and held a caucus on Super Tuesday -- the second Tuesday in March. However, that caucus resulted in low voter turnout, and possibly a reason why Arkansas returned to a primary system at a later date.

Lieutenant Governor Rockefeller is the Chairman of the State Republican Party. He warns against an earlier primary because it could affect local races and favor incumbents. But at least one local representative is in favor of a change.)

"I think that's something that would make the presidential candidates, republican and democrat, force them if you will to come to Arkansas," said State Representative Paul Bookout of Jonesboro. "I think it would be a good thing for the state, it would tickle me to death to see presidential candidates come to Northeast Arkansas."