California close to moving presidential primary

California lawmakers sent a bill over the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this afternoon that calls for the state to move up its presidential primary from June to February.

The Assembly passed SB 113 on a party line vote of 46 to 28. Republicans opposed the bill on the grounds that it would cost $90 million and the legislation failed to guarantee repayment of the costs to the counties.

The governor has already expressed strong support for the idea and most consider the move a done deal.

A number of politicos believe the shift will force presidential candidates to court rather than cash out in California. The state has typically led the nation in contributions to presidential campaigns but the candidates showed up only for fund-raisers.

“During the 2004 election cycle,” said Democrat Party Chairman Art Torres, “candidates withdrew $182 million in campaign cash from the ‘California ATM,’ but not a penny of it came back to be spent here.”

Torres rightfully points out that White House hopefuls have already started spending more time cultivating California voters.

But a handful of other states have the same idea, which could produce a mega-super Tuesday on Feb. 5, tax the candidates’ bank accounts and dilute California’s influence on the selection of the eventual nominees in each party.

And let’s not forget: The earlier the primaries, the longer the election. That could produce voter fatigue in a state that has already experienced a spate of extra elections from the 2003 recall of former Gray Davis to the failed special election of 2005.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen