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California Moves To Shift Presidential Primary Date

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AllPolitics, Sept. 1) -- In a bid to increase California's influence in picking who will run for president, state lawmakers are working to move up the date of their state's primary.

Though California's 54 electoral votes are the most of any state in the nation, its impact on choosing presidential nominees has been minimized over the years as the nominations are usually wrapped up earlier in the primary season, before Californians vote.

The California state Senate Monday approved, 21-14, a bill to move its primary from June to the first Tuesday in March starting in 2000. The state Assembly approved the bill last week and the legislation now goes to Gov. Pete Wilson (R).

Supporters of the bill say the move would force White House hopefuls to pay more attention to issues important to California and give the state more say in selecting the final candidates for president.

Wilson spokesman Sean Walsh said the governor has some concerns about the bill, and had not indicated whether he would sign or veto it.

Wilson is considered a possible contender for his party's nomination in 2000, and would likely benefit from a California primary date change.

New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is at the end of February, and both the Democratic and Republican parties have agreed to hold no other primaries before March 1.

The last time California played a crucial role in selecting a presidential nominee was in 1972 when George McGovern's victory in the state's primary propelled him to the Democratic nomination.

In a onetime experiment, in 1996 California held its primary on the fourth Tuesday in March, but even then, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole had already captured their parties' nominations.

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California Moves To Shift Presidential Primary Date


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