Move over, Ohio. Pennsylvania voters may be inviting themselves to the presidential primary party.

The Senate State Government Committee passed Senate Bill 224 with bipartisan support on Wednesday. It would move the Keystone State’s primary from April 23 to March 19. Delaware Valley Democratic Sens. Amande Cappelletti, Katie Muth, and Anthony Williams all backed the bill.

“I introduced this bill to give Pennsylvania voters a greater say in selecting their preferred candidate for president of the United States,” Sen. Dave Argall, the bill’s prime sponsor. “As the fifth largest state in the country, we should have a stronger role in this election. In most Presidential elections, the outcome is largely decided before our voters have a chance to cast their vote.”

Moving the date would also avoid a conflict with the Jewish holiday of Passover, one reason Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro has supported GOP calls to make a change.

“The governor supports moving the 2024 primary to ensure that observers of Passover have every opportunity to exercise their right to vote and looks forward to working with the General Assembly to change the date,” according to a statement from Shapiro’s press secretary, Manuel Bonder.

The move has bipartisan support from the chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia)

“Pennsylvania is a critical battleground in determining the leadership and direction of our nation,” said Senator Street. “It is our obligation to enhance the voices of Pennsylvanians in choosing the president. Moving our presidential primary date up by one month gives the voices of Pennsylvanians the weight they deserve. Moreover, the current primary date conflicts with Passover, which disenfranchises those of Jewish faith who, in adherence to their beliefs, are prohibited from driving, writing, and the use of electricity on the holiday.”

Jewish leaders have been urging the legislature to act on the date change for months.

“We do believe the date should be changed. Through the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, we have been working with the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly to change the date,” said Michael Balaban, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “We anticipate legislation to change the date to go through the legislative process within the next few weeks. Both the governor and the General Assembly favor the date change, as does the Secretary of State, Al Schmidt.

“We anticipate no opposition to the date change and are encouraged by how positive officials have addressed this issue,” Balaban said.

While there is bipartisan support for moving the date, there is ongoing debate over what the new date should be.

In the Democrat-controlled House, State Government Committee chair Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre) said Wednesday he would bring a House bill sponsored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. That bill would move the presidential primary to April 2, not March 19.

Both dates would make Pennsylvania part of a regional primary. March 19 would put Pennsylvania’s primary on the same day as Ohio, along with Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. April 2 is primary day for Delaware, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

“My proposed date of April 2 would put Pennsylvania’s elections on the same date as Wisconsin — another battleground — and our regional neighbors of Delaware and New York,” Kenyatta said. “I look forward to working with Senate sponsors to get this done.”

Kenyatta also argued his bill is the better choice because the March 26 date would require petitions to be circulated starting the day after Christmas and through the New Year holidays, while his proposed date of April 2 would require petition circulation to start on Jan. 2, after the holidays have concluded.

Pennsylvania political insiders told DVJournal the main point of the bill is to avoid a conflict with Passover, not to make the state a player in the primary. With President Joe Biden facing only token opposition and former President Donald Trump holding a lead of more than 20 points in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, most observers believe the nomination will be locked down before either date.

And the GOP’s decision to add more “winner take all” contests to the calendar makes the odds of an extended primary battle even less likely.

As Nate Cohn wrote for The New York Times, “In the half-century of modern presidential primaries, no candidate who led his or her nearest rival by at least 20 points at this stage has ever lost a party nomination.”

The last time Pennsylvania hosted a meaningful presidential primary was in 2008 when Hillary Clinton was battling (unsuccessfully) to catch Barack Obama in the delegate count.

The bill now advances to the full Senate for consideration.