Cal­i­for­nia As­sem­bly OKs pres­i­den­tial pri­mary in March

Yuma Sun - - NEWS -

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Cal­i­for­nia As­sem­bly has voted to move the 2020 pres­i­den­tial pri­mary to March to give the na­tion’s most pop­u­lous state more in­flu­ence in choos­ing nom­i­nees.

The bill ap­proved Fri­day will now go to the state Se­nate where it’s ex­pected to pass. Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he’ll sign it.

The bill would move the pres­i­den­tial pri­mary to the Tues­day after the first Mon­day in March — three months ear­lier than the June con­test held in 2016, when Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump were al­ready the pre­sump­tive nom­i­nees.

A March pri­mary would likely fall on so-called “Su­per Tues­day,” when roughly a dozen states typ­i­cally vote fol­low­ing the early pri­maries in Iowa, New Hamp­shire and sev­eral other states.

“Can­di­dates will have to spend more time in Cal­i­for­nia,” said Demo­cratic Assem­bly­man Kevin Mullin of San Francisco.

An ear­lier pri­mary could give an edge to well-funded can­di­dates.

Cal­i­for­nia is home to 11 media mar­kets, mak­ing it ex­pen­sive to cam­paign.

It’s eas­ier for can­di­dates with lim­ited money to com­pete along­side fi­nan­cial heavy-hit­ters in early pri­mary states such as Iowa and New Hamp­shire. In 2016, for ex­am­ple, John Ka­sich took sec­ond in New Hamp­shire with lim­ited money, while Jeb Bush, who had more than $100 mil­lion, placed fourth.

“The cost of play­ing in Cal­i­for­nia ver­sus play­ing in New Hamp­shire, Iowa, South Carolina is in­cred­i­bly dif­fer­ent,” said Mike Bi­undo, Repub­li­can Rick San­to­rum’s 2012 cam­paign man­ager who later worked for Ka­sich and Trump. “A Jeb Bush or a Hil­lary Clin­ton, I think, have the ad­van­tage if Cal­i­for­nia is ear­lier.”

An ear­lier pri­mary, es­pe­cially one held on Su­per Tues­day, wouldn’t mean ev­ery can­di­date will spend more time in the state. In 2016, for ex­am­ple, Texas, Colorado, Mas­sachusetts, Vir­ginia and eight other states voted that day.

And it doesn’t en­sure the po­lit­i­cal rel­e­vance that Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers crave. The last time Cal­i­for­nia voted early — in Fe­bru­ary 2008 — the state backed Clin­ton, but Barack Obama went on to win the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion and the pres­i­dency.

Cal­i­for­nia’s last truly rel­e­vant pres­i­den­tial pri­mary was per­haps in 1972, when Ge­orge McGovern de­feated Hu­bert Humphrey on McGovern’s way to win­ning the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion.

Michael Schroeder, Repub­li­can Ted Cruz’s Cal­i­for­nia po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor in 2016, said it’s too early in the po­lit­i­cal cal­en­dar to pre­dict the im­pact of an ear­lier pri­mary in 2020.

“Right now, Cal­i­for­nia is com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant for pick­ing pres­i­dents. We didn’t pick Hil­lary (Clin­ton) and we didn’t pick (Pres­i­dent Don­ald) Trump,” he said, re­fer­ring to 2016 con­tests that were es­sen­tially set­tled be­fore the state voted.

Chang­ing the date “will make us at least some­what rel­e­vant; it could make us very rel­e­vant,” he said.

The Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic na­tional com­mit­tees have not yet set rules for the 2020 con­tests, in­clud­ing the pre­ferred pri­mary cal­en­dar and del­e­gates awarded to each state. Depend­ing on rules set, other states could at­tempt to leapfrog ahead of Cal­i­for­nia, push­ing the en­tire pri­mary sea­son ear­lier.

Cal­i­for­nia his­tor­i­cally awards more del­e­gates than any other state.

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