Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Feb. 5 Primary

Gov. Don Carcieri has vetoed a bill moving Rhode Island's presidential primary up a month to Feb. 5, a surprise move just days after he signaled he would not object.

Lawmakers in the Democratic-dominated General Assembly suddenly revived a bill to move up the primary during a special session last week. They argued tiny Rhode Island would become irrelevant in presidential politics unless it joined some two dozen other states that have set their presidential primaries or caucuses for Feb. 5.

In a veto message, Carcieri said that changing the date so late in the year could create havoc for local voting officials, who did not have a chance to testify about the bill before it passed.

If lawmakers had acted earlier in the year, the Republican governor said he would have supported the legislation.

Democrats hold a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate, but they are not scheduled to meet again until January.

State Sen. Leo Raptakis, the Democrat who sponsored the bill, said he believed there was not enough time left to attempt a veto override.

"We're going to be spending a lot of money for a presidential primary here in Rhode Island where the voter turnout will probably be the lowest ever in history," he said.