It’s time once again for the every-four-year ritual. No, not the Olympics. Not the presidential election, though you’re getting warm. It’s the every-four-year return of “should Pennsylvania move up its primary” discussion.

But, this year, there’s a chance. I know: you’ve heard this before.

Here’s why it could happen: Under current law, it is set for the fourth Tuesday of April, which in 2024 is April 23. This is also the first-day of Passover. Respect, common sense and political realities all call for the date to be changed.

No one seriously argues that it should be moved later in the year. So, if it’s going to be moved, it will likely be held sooner.

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Here’s why it should be in March: By the time April arrives, 30 states and several territories will have voted. So, if Pennsylvania is going to move the primary to accommodate the holiday, and everyone wants it held sooner, political reality is that it ought to be held in March.

March 5 is “Super Tuesday.” If Pennsylvania is looking to be relevant and seeking to get attention, it makes very little sense to pick that date. March 26 is getting close to “it’s too late to matter.” 

March 12 seems to be the sweet spot, with March 19 as a fallback.

For the major contenders, there should be no objection. On the Democratic side, President Biden considers Pennsylvania his second (first?) home. And, in 2028, perhaps another Democrat may want an early delegate harvest from Pennsylvania?

On the GOP side, President Trump has done well in Pennsylvania. And Governor DeSantis has not only a base of support, but also a pool of suburban voters who have not historically supported Trump.

Here’s why we, as Pennsylvanians, should care: The candidates would be drawn to our politics, our people, our geography, and the diversity of our economy.

First, Pennsylvania is the largest state that is truly up for grabs. In the last generation, the winner’s margin has typically been five percent or less, and the winner often receives less than 50 percent. 

We should stop being a political afterthought. We should stop being timid, shy, and afraid of the limelight.

Second, of the early primary states, Pennsylvania would be among the most diverse with a large population of African Americans, Hispanic and Asian voters; a top-ten city; a state that is both “east coast” and “Midwest;” and has one of the largest rural populations in the nation.

Third, our economy is among the most diverse in the nation. Our largest economic sector is agriculture, we sit on one of the largest deposits of natural gas on the planet, we are home to many of the nation’s life science hubs, we have more universities per capita than almost any state, and we are home to some of America’s poorest and wealthiest zip codes. 

Pennsylvania is America.

We should not be the 40th state to hold a primary, when the election has been decided by states that are smaller or less diverse. We should make sure candidates see Kensington, and break-through technologies in King of Prussia; they should visit the growing and diverse communities of first- and second-generation Americans and our small towns that support our agricultural communities — bringing food, feed and milk to millions of Americans. Pennsylvania is not Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.

Last but not least, we should stop being a political afterthought. We should stop being timid, shy, and afraid of the limelight.

Politicians of both parties and all ideologies should recognize that the honorable thing is to move our primary away from Passover. Leadership dictates we take the important, real and symbolic step of moving our primary to March.

Yes, Pennsylvania, there is a chance… to do something bold, bipartisan and good for Pennsylvanians.

Guy Ciarrocchi writes for RealClear Pennsylvania and Broad+Liberty. He is also a Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation. This column reflects his views and not necessarily those of any affiliated organization. Follow him @GuyCiarrocchi.

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