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Inside Politics

California primary move creates Super-duper Tuesday

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NEW: Schwarzenegger signs measure moving primary from June to February
• California would join seven other states with primaries on February 5
• As many as 15 other states are considering moving primaries to same day
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SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- After trooping through the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire early next year, America's quadrennial gaggle of would-be presidents will be singing a new tune -- "California, Here We Come."

The Golden State's presidential primary was moved to February 5, 2008, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday signed a law authorizing the change.

The move sets up an expensive, high-stakes showdown for delegates in the nation's most populous state.

Legislators hope the move will increase the influence of California's presidential primary, which had been in June and too late in the process for the state's voters to have much of an effect on the nomination battle in either major party. Party primaries for state and congressional offices will remain in June.

However, the impact of California's calendar change may be blunted by the fact that nominating contests will also be held February 5 in seven other states -- and proposals are rattling around in 15 others to move contests to the very same Tuesday.

The possible result? A quasi-national primary that could largely settle nomination battles before the first piece of Valentine's candy is even eaten.

In addition to California, other states with contests on February 5 include Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah, while New Mexico Democrats and West Virginia Republicans will also have contests on that date.

The list of states where proposals are afoot to join the mega-Tuesday pack includes some of the largest in the union: New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Georgia. And although that might blunt the impact of California's move, the delegate-rich Golden State would still remain the day's largest prize.

Candidates on the Republican side of the ballot may even have more at stake than their Democratic counterparts, thanks to the peculiar rules under which GOP delegates are picked in California.

In the Republican primary, the winner of the most votes in each of the state's 53 congressional district gets all of the delegates up for grabs in that district. So a candidate with enough money and name recognition to do well across California can walk away with a major chunk of the 173 available delegates.

CNN's Robert Yoon and Bill Schneider contributed to this report.

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