ATLANTA — Secretary of State Brian Kemp predicted Tuesday that his concept of a regional, presidential primary next March could begin drawing potential candidates soon.

Speaking to business and civic leaders from Effingham County gathered at the Capitol, Kemp said scheduling Georgia’s primary along with neighboring states would create a significant prize for the campaigns to compete for. Having no incumbent on the ballot likely means candidates from both major parties would be eager for Georgia votes.

“For many years in Georgia, we have always been kind of behind the time cycle on that. Either the race was over with before it even got to Georgia and you pretty much knew who the nominees were going to be, or we were going the same day as other big states like New York or California, and we were getting kind of overshadowed,” he said.

Kemp is nicknaming it SEC Primary for the Southeastern Conference, the league major colleges compete in for athletics, most visibly football.

So far, only Tennessee has committed to the same March 1 date as Georgia. Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama plan to pass legislation this session to join that date.

Two giant states that could overshadow Georgia in a regional primary, Texas and Florida, are more likely to opt for different dates. That’s because Republican Party rules enacted this month require states holding primaries before March 15 to apportion national-convention delegates rather than winner-take-all. Since each state is expected to have a favorite son in the race, a later primary would give a bigger boost than a share of delegates spread across as many as six or seven candidates.

Kemp noted that ethanol gasoline rules and farm subsidies are the result of campaign promises to farmers in Iowa, candidates’ traditional first presidential test. Georgia could score a few perks, too, if the candidates felt compelled to court Peach State voters.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to be part of the process,” he said.

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