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  •   California Moves Up Its Primary


    Associated Press
    Tuesday, September 29, 1998; Page A04

    SACRAMENTO, Sept. 28—Gov. Pete Wilson (R) signed a bill today that pushes up the state's presidential primary to the earliest possible date – March 7, 2000 – in an attempt to give California more of a say in the race for the White House.

    The bill moves the date of California's primary to the first Tuesday in March, which would be about a week after New Hampshire's traditionally first-in-the-nation primary in presidential election years. The precinct caucuses in Iowa are earlier.

    "California voters are finally going to have some clout in deciding who the major parties nominate for president," said Wilson, who is contemplating a presidential run in 2000.

    California is the most populous state, with 33 million people, and its economy ranks seventh-largest in the world. Yet California primaries in recent years have taken place in June, long after the nominations are sealed up.

    In a one-time-only step taken in 1996, California moved its primary from June to March 26, but it proved a dismal failure. Many states just moved their primaries even earlier.

    Proponents of the early primary have said that presidential candidates come to California early and often to raise money, but because of the state's late primary, they have not been forced to take up California issues.

    At least nine other states, including New York and several New England states, also want to hold primaries on the first possible primary day recognized by the Democratic Party. The party makes an exception for New Hampshire's primary, which is always first. The Republican Party doesn't have a similar rule.

    © Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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