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Four US States Push For Earlier 2008 Presidential Primaries January 25, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Presidential candidates are about to get just what they don’t need and don’t want – a crush of primaries and caucuses leading off the 2008 campaign calendar.

Some of the biggest states are racing to place their primaries near the front of the 2008 primary lineup, including California, Florida, New Jersey and possibly Illinois. That’s likely to create a crowded first Tuesday in February.

The move means that only a month after the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nominating season on Jan. 14, the contests for the Democratic and Republican nominations will be effectively decided.

No one thinks that’s a good idea – not the candidates, not the parties and not the voters. It ratchets up the pressure on candidates to get in the race early and raise unprecedented amounts of money. Political strategists frequently cite $100 million as roughly the amount each presidential candidate will need to raise in 2007 to compete effectively in a compressed 2008 primary season.

One reason for the big bucks is that candidates will need to be ready to shift quickly from relatively cheap, personal politicking in small population states like Iowa and New Hampshire to expensive, message-driven advertising in big population states. Add to that the expense of mobilizing legions of forces on the ground.

The tentative nominating schedule begins in January with caucuses in Iowa and then Nevada (for the Democrats only), followed quickly by primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina (for Democrats on Jan. 29 and Republicans on Feb. 2).

“Iowa will effectively identify who is in and who is out. In a kind of political arms race, officials in the states that want to move forward in the calendar say they fear that if they don’t act, their state’s voters will be left out except for whatever money they might donate.

Efforts by leading Democrats to lure states later in the calendar with the promise of bonus delegates are being overwhelmed by the states’ desire to go early. The proposed system would give bonus delegates to states that agreed to keep their contests in April or May, or to move their contests back to those months.

Democrats have received little early response to that bonus delegate plan. The full Democratic National Committee will vote on the plan at its winter meeting in early February.

Democratic rules panel co-chairman James Roosevelt said some states “may be waiting to see what happens” before offering to move contests later and collect bonus delegates.

Six states, as well as South Carolina, held Democratic presidential contests on the first Tuesday in February 2004 – Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Those states plan to hold contests in early February 2008, though some, like Arizona and North Dakota, haven’t decided exactly what day.

Among the other states that have moved up to the first Tuesday (Feb. 5, 2008) or are considering doing so are Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina and Utah.

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