With move to ‘Super Tuesday,’ California looks to increase influence on presidential primary

Denise Cross / flickr

In an effort to bolster its relevance during the next presidential election, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a new law moving California’s primary from June to early March.

A March primary gives the Golden State an opportunity to be political flashpoint moving into 2020. In 2016, by the time June rolled around, the presidential primaries were essentially over.

“Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation as they seek our country’s highest office,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “California has been a leader time and time again on the most important issues facing our country – including immigration, education and the environment. The Prime Time Primary Act will help ensure that issues important to Californians are prioritized by presidential candidates from all political parties.”

The move is also seen as a potential boost to possible Democratic candidates like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, rising stars in the party who would benefit from having their home state vote earlier in the primary process.

The legislation also moves up congressional races, taking effect in 2019. Now, the elections will fall “on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March,” making California part of the so-called “Super Tuesday” states.

Furthermore, an earlier primary will have a significant effect on fundraising, beyond candidates raising money earlier.

“With an earlier primary, our elections could have major national implications in the electoral college and down ballot races,” Los Angeles-based GOP fundraiser Charles Moran told CalWatchdog. “D.C. will have to pay attention to us for more than just our money.”

This isn’t a first for California, as there was a February primary back in 2008, leading to the “highest voter turnout for a primary election since 1980,” according to Padilla.

Joining the “Super Tuesday” fray also appears to be an effort to thwart President Trump, or least give California a greater opportunity to set the anti-Trump agenda for Democrats nationally.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who authored the bill, hinted at that motivation, saying that “we have a responsibility to drive a different agenda at the national level and promote inclusion and consensus not the politics of division.”

California has positioned itself at the center of the so-called “resistance” against the Trump administration, suing over the travel ban, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the border wall.

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