After the relatively focused retail campaigns of Iowa and New Hampshire, the surviving candidates enter a dizzying array of primaries.  They must decide where to concentrate their efforts and resources as they jump around the country trying to hit key media markets and win enough delegates to gain their party nominations.

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Stampede: State Actions
In 2005-07 legislatures or parties in more than 20 states moved the dates of their presidential primaries or caucuses forward.

ALABAMA:  The presidential preference primary has historically been held with the state primary on the first Tuesday in June.  In 2005 Rep. Ken Guin (D-Carbon Hill) introduced a bill, HB100, to move the presidential primary forward; the House passed the bill on April 6, but the Senate failed to pass the bill by the close of session on May 16.  In January 2006 Guin reintroduced his bill, HB51 to establish a separate presidential primary "on the Saturday immediately following the New Hampshire presidential preference primary."  The bill, amended to set the presidential primary on first Tuesday in February, passed the House and the Senate and was delivered to Gov. Bob Riley (R) on April 17, 2006.  Riley signed the bill on April 27.  According to a fiscal note, HB51 "would increase the election expenses of the state, paid from the State General Fund, by an estimated $3.3 million for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008 and every fourth year thereafter."  [from June 3 to Feb. 5]

ALASKA:  Democratic district caucuses and Republican district conventions will be held on February 5, 2008.  (In 2004 those events were held in March and May respectively).  The Alaska Democratic Party's State Central Committee set the February 5 date as part of its Delegate Selection Plan, adopted at its meeting in Anchorage on May 19.  [to Feb. 5]

ARIZONA:  Statute sets out the date of the presidential preference election as the fourth Tuesday in February, but the Governor can issue a proclamation to move the date forward (as happened in 2004 >).  On Aug. 21, 2007, Gov. Napolitano took that step, setting the date of the 2008 primary as February 5, 2008.  [to Feb. 5]

ARKANSAS:  In early March 2005 Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) signed into law SB235 "An Act Concerning Presidential Preferential Primary Elections" which moves the state's presidential primary from May to the first Tuesday in February.  The bill, by Sen. Tracy Steele (D-North Little Rock), easily passed both houses of the General Assembly.  [from May 20 to Feb. 5]

CALIFORNIA:    The California two-step (back then forward).
Part 1: On Sept. 27, 2004 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed into law SB1730 which moves the state's primary back to June.  The legislation, by Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine), had easily passed both chambers of the legislature.  Johnson termed the March primary an "utter failure."  His office noted, "In the 2004 Primary, California set a record for the lowest turnout ever in a presidential primary election.  In the 2002 Primary, California set a record for the lowest turnout ever in a primary election in our state's history.  And California's eight-month gap between the primary and general election resulted in the lowest turnout ever for a general election in November 2002."

Part II: On Feb. 24, 2006 then Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D), chairman of the Committee on Elections and Redistricting, introduced AB 2949, a bill to "require the Secretary of State to select a date that results in California being the first state in the United States to hold its presidential primary, as specified."  AB 2949 would also have required the presidential primary to be conducted entirely by mail.  Umberg's bill did not pass.

Part III: In 2007 there was a reinvigorated effort to move to an earlier presidential primary.  On Jan. 17, 2007, in response to a question at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon, Gov. Schwarzenegger stated,

"I've spoken to the leaders about that, and I think that it is just something that we should look at, because I'm interested to make California a player.  I mean, right now, think about it, we are the number one state in the union, we're the number one place in the world, and yet we are kind of an afterthought when it comes to presidential campaigns.  I mean, all those guys come out here and they clean up, and they take the money and they run; millions and millions and millions of dollars, both parties.  But we have no—we are not part of the decision making.  Or that they're even coming here and campaigning here, because they just it write if off, because California is not relevant.  So what we want to do is, we want to make California relevant.  And I think the way we make it relevant, this state, is by moving up the primaries maybe to February.  So this is something we talked about, and I think that that is something that we should shoot for."
On January 18, State Senator Ron Calderon (D), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments, announced legislation, SB113,  to move California’s presidential primary election to the first Tuesday in February.  The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 31 to 5 on February 13, the Assembly followed with a vote of 46-29 on March 6, and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the measure into law on March 15.  [from March 4 to June 3 to Feb. 5]

COLORADO:  H.B. 1376 (“Precinct Caucus Day in Presidential Year”), passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Bill Ritter (D) on June 1, 2007, states that a political party may, by decision of its state central committee, hold its precinct caucuses on the first Tuesday in February.  On July 21, 2007 Colorado Democrats voted at their executive committee meeting in Pueblo to hold their caucuses on Feb. 5, 2008.  "By moving this date forward in the election cycle Colorado takes a greater role in deciding the who becomes the next president," stated Pat Waak, Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, in a press release.  In August 2007 the Colorado Republican State Central Committee likewise voted, by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent, to change its precinct caucus date from March 18 to Feb. 5.  "This move should increase campaign activity in Colorado by all the Republican presidential candidates," Chair of the Colorado Republican Party Dick Wadhams stated in a press release[to Feb. 5]

CONNECTICUT:  Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and representatives of both parties and several groups joined together for a press conference on March 27, 2007 to support moving the primary from March 4 to February 5.  According to a press release, Bysiewicz stated, "In the absence of a rational primary process, we are seeing an ad-hoc national primary take shape.”  "Connecticut didn’t start this tidal wave but I cannot stand by and allow our voters to become irrelevant.  Ultimately, members of both political parties must come together and enact real reform,” she said.  On June 1 the House passed SB-1184 by a vote of 118-29, on June 2 the Senate followed by a vote of 29-6, and on June 25 Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) signed the measure into law.  [from March 4 to Feb. 5]

FLORIDA:  The primary is scheduled for January 29, 2008.  The effort to establish an early primary traces back to the first part of 2006, when then incoming House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Miami) set out the goal of moving the state's primary up to seven days after the New Hampshire primary.1 Idea #37 of the House Republicans' "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future" stated, "Move Florida’s Presidential primary up to a time that would highlight Florida’s concerns and issues and would ensure our national influence in choosing a Presidential candidate."  On Jan. 23, 2007 Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami) filed HB 537, a bill to move the presidential primary to the first Tuesday in February or the first Tuesday immediately following the New Hampshire presidential preference primary, whichever occurs first.  The final bill, which weighed in at 80 pages, covered a range of topics ranging from third party voter registration to "requiring all voting to be by marksense ballot" (optical scan machines).  The final version of the bill dropped the link to the date of New Hampshire's primary and instead set a defined date of the last Tuesday in January.  The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 37-2 on April 27 and the House put up a vote of 118-0 on May 3.  On May 21, 2007 Gov. Charlie Crist (R) signed a bill to move the date of state's presidential primary to from the second Tuesday in March to the last Tuesday in January. (>).

...Republicans: In August 2007 the RPOF Executive Board adopted the party's 2008 delegate selection rules as well as language that gives its chairman "the ability to address any decision that the Convention might undertake that is converse to this position." >  As noted above, on October 22, 2007 the RNC Executive Committee voted to penalize Florida and four other states by half their delegates to the the Republican National Convention for starting their delegate selection in advance of Feb. 5, 2008; those penalties are reflected in the Call to the Convention the RNC issued on November 9, 2007.

...Democrats: State Democrats, facing a reduction in the number of pledged delegates and alternates by 50 percent, considered various options, such as holding caucuses or a convention on Feb. 5, 2008 or later.  A proposed vote by mail primary would have cost from $7 to 8 million.  On June 10, 2007 the State Executive Committee voted unanimously to use the state-run January 29 primary even at risk of a penalty. >  Some time later the DNC offered to put up $866,000 help fund a caucus with 120,000 ballots and 150 voting sites.  On August 4 the State Executive Committee formally adopted its Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan, setting the date of Florida's Democratic Presidential Preference Primary for January 29, 2008. >

The matter heated up at the August 25 meeting of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, where representatives of the Florida Democratic Party pleaded that they had done what they could to move the date within the window but were at the mercy of the Republican-controlled legislature.  Further, they argued that holding a caucus with just 150 voting sites compared to 6,700 locations for the state-run primary would hurt efforts to build the party in this key state and could affect the outcome of property-tax referendum to be held on January 29.  The Rules and Bylaws Committee held firm, found the FDP plan in noncompliance, and voted to penalize Florida Democrats 100 percent of their delegates to the national convention if they do not come up with a plan within 30 days that complies with the timing requirement.  "We're going to follow the rules," said RBC member Donna Brazile.

However, Florida Democrats stood firm.  On September 23, 2007 Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman announced the party would participate in the January 29 primary.   A FAQ on the FDP website notes, "Although the DNC has said it will not recognize delegates from Florida, the Party plans to appeal to the eventual Democratic nominee for President to be seated at the Convention." >

Florida's move set off changes in other states.  In particular, South Carolina has traditionally gone first in the South.  On Aug. 9, 2007 South Carolina Republicans announced a January 19, 2008 date for their primary; state Democrats resisted a move forward and vowed to follow their party rules. >  Michigan Democrats are watching what happens in the Florida case and have indicated they will move their caucus date forward if Democrats in another state violate DNC rules. >  [from March 4 to Jan. 29]
1. See: Lesley Clark and Mary Ellen Klas.  "Earlier primary touted as aid to Florida."  Miami Herald, March 31, 2006.

GEORGIA:  On May 29, 2007 Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) signed S.B. 194, a bill that, among other provisions, states that the presidential preference primary "shall be held on February 5, 2008, and on the first Tuesday in February every four years thereafter."  [from March 4 to Feb. 5]

ILLINOIS:  On Jan. 10, 2007 Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan proposed moving the Illinois presidential primary from March 18 to Feb. 5 to aid a possible campaign by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).  The House passed HB0426 on March 28, 2007, the Senate passed the bill on May 15, 2007, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed it into law on June 20, 2007.  [from March 18 to Feb. 5]

LOUISIANA:  The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Louisiana on November 12, 2005 voted 86 to 23 to adopt a resolution calling on the Louisiana legislature "move the Louisiana presidential preference primary from the second Tuesday in March to the second Saturday in February.  However, if Mardi Gras falls on the second Tuesday of February, the primary will then be held on the third Saturday of February."  In 2006 legislators introduced two bills to move the presidential primary from the second Tuesday in March to February, Senate Bill 688 by Sen. Jay Dardenne (R-Baton Rouge) and House Bill 1307 by Rep. Nita Hutter (R-Chalmette).  Following unanimous votes for House Bill 1307 in both the House and Senate, Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) signed the measure into law on July 5, 2007. [March 11 to Feb. 9]
See: Christopher Tidmore.  "Louisiana's presidential primary may advance."  Louisiana Weekly.  April 2, 2007.

MASSACHUSETTSMassachusetts was the last state to join the stampede to an earlier primary.  Secretary of State William Galvin led a late push to move the 2008 presidential primary date from March 4 to February 5 in an effort to increase the Commonwealth's influence in the elections.  The measure made quick progress through the General Court.  On Nov. 14, 2007 the Joint Committee on Election Laws reported out favorably legislation to change the date in 2008.  The bill passed both Houses the week of Nov. 19, 2007, and Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed it into law on Nov. 26, 2007.

MARYLAND:  State Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman sought to move the primary from the first Tuesday in March to the second Tuesday in February (March 4 to February 12) in presidential election years, when it would coincide with the primary in neighboring Virginia.1  He had the support of Gov. Martin O'Malley and Senate President Mike Miller. HB 1434/SB 1025, introduced on March 9, 2007, passed both chambers of the legislature on April 2, and was signed by Gov. O'Malley on April 24, 2007.  [from March 4 to Feb. 12]
1. See John Wagner.  "Maryland Ponders Moving Up Primaries."  The Washington Post, March 9, 2007.

MICHIGAN:  One could almost write a book on the machinations around Michigan's Jan. 15, 2008 primary date.  Michigan Democrats, in particular Sen. Carl Levin, led the effort to challenge New Hampshire's privileged first-in-the-nation status.  Levin was the driving force behind creation of the DNC Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling which ran in 2005-06.   In April 2006 Michigan Democrats applied to the DNC for Michigan to be one of the new early pre-window states; however the DNC approved Nevada and South Carolina.  Fast-forward to 2007.  On Aug. 22, 2007, the Republican-controlled State Senate approved by a vote of 21 to 17 S.B. 624, which, as amended, required a statewide presidential primary election on Jan. 15, 2008 (the original bill set a date of January 29).  (reactions).  On Aug. 30, the Democratic-controlled House passed the legislation by a vote of 67 to 34, and the same day the Senate passed a concurred version of the bill.  (letter to candidates).  Gov. Granholm signed the measure into law on Sept. 4.  (press release).  However, on Oct. 24 Mark Grebner, an East Lansing political consultant, filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a provision of the law granting exclusive rights of voter lists to the Democratic and Republican parties.  (related In Nov. 2007 Ingham County Circuit Court Chief Judge William E. Collette issued an order prohibiting the Jan. 15 primary.  The Court of Appeals upheld the ruling on Nov. 16.  There were efforts to pass a legislative remedy and the parties prepared back-up plans. (press release).  Finally on Nov. 21 the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the lower court rulings.  (reactions). The Jan. 15 date violates Democratic and Republican national party rules, and both the DNC and the RNC have vowed to enforce penalties.
[from Feb. 26 to Jan. 15]

MINNESOTA:  Minnesota Statutes (202A.14) set out the date for precinct caucuses as the first Tuesday in March, which in 2008 is March 4.  However, the Minnesota Republican Party and the Minnesota DFL have moved to hold caucuses on Feb. 5, 2008.  On July 10, 2007 the Minnesota Republican Party executive committee voted to hold caucuses on Feb. 5, and in August 2007 the DFL State DFL Central Committee approved the change to Feb. 5 in a mail ballot.

Earlier there were legislative efforts to move the date forward, but party leaders determined that step was not necessary.
-In February 2007 State Sen. Dan Larson (DFL-Bloomington) introduced S.F. No. 893 to move the precinct caucuses from  the first Tuesday in March to the third Tuesday in February and the state primary from September to June.  On May 9 Larson offered an amendment, which was approved, to change the date of the precinct caucuses not to the third Tuesday, but to the second Tuesday in February.  On May 11 the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 55-9, and it was sent on to the House where it went to committee.
-In 2005 there was bipartisan support for efforts to move the precinct caucuses from the first Tuesday of March to the third Tuesday in February (another change > would move the state primary from mid-September to June).  The thinking was that February precinct caucuses would coincide with the Wisconsin primary to create a "Super Tuesday of the North" or "Frozen Tuesday."
-In 2003 legislation to move the date of the precinct caucuses passed the Senate but stalled in the House.

See:  "Minnesota appears likely to move up '08 party caucuses."  Associated Press, June 25, 2007. (in the Star Tribune)
         Bill Salisbury.  "Minnesota Legislature / Caucuses could be moved up in 2008."  Pioneer Press, May 9, 2007.

NEVADA (R):  After the Democratic National Committee voted for early Jan. 19, 2008 caucuses in Nevada, it appeared for a while that Nevada Republicans would be left to watch from the sidelines.  In early March 2007 the state GOP executive committee decided to move the party's precinct caucuses up to Feb. 7, 2008.  However, activists led by Chuck Muth and Pete Ernaut pushed for January caucuses, arguing although the early caucuses would violate Republican National Committee rules and could cost half of the state's delegates to the Republican National Convention to do otherwise could relegate the party to permanant minority status.  The Nevada Republican Party State Central Committee approved the move to Jan. 19, 2008 in a near unanimous vote during its April 21, 2007 meeting in Carson City.  [Jan. 19]

NEW JERSEY:    The New Jersey two-step (forward then further forward).
Part I: On July 7, 2005 Acting Governor Richard J. Codey (D) signed into law A30/S550 which establishes a separate presidential primary on the last Tuesday in February (the state primary remains in June).  Codey had highlighted the issue in his State of the State address on Jan. 11, 2005.  In prepared remarks he stated: "I am tired of being a bystander in the Presidential primaries.  I am tired of watching small states like Iowa and New Hampshire pick our presidential candidates.  I am sure that each state is a fine place to raise a family.  But they do not have the population, the diversity, and the concerns that we do.  New Jersey must move up its presidential primary. We've discussed this for years.  Now the time has come to make New Jersey a Presidential player instead of an ATM machine for Presidential candidates!"  The Assembly passed the legislation on June 20, 2005 by a vote of 66-6-6 and the Senate followed on June 23 in a 36 to 1 vote.  Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex), a sponsor, stated at the bill signing, "The variety of issues that are debated during a Presidential campaign more closely mirror the interests that affect New Jerseyans every day.  New Jersey is in so many ways a microcosm reflecting the needs of the nation as a whole.  In the next race to the presidency, candidates will need the support of the Garden State to cement their standing as either party's pick for the presidential nomination, if they are to truly represent the needs and wishes of the people."  The Office of Legislative Services estimates the cost of a separate presidential primary at $10.3 million.

Part II: However, the last Tuesday in February was not early enough.  On Sept. 18, 2006 Sens. Richard J. Codey and Ellen Karcher introduced S2193 to change the date of presidential primary from the last Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday after first Monday in February.  The Senate voted to approve the bill on Dec. 4, 2006 by a vote of 33-5, the Assembly followed by a vote of 57-20-2 on March 15, and Gov. Jon Corzine (D) signed the measure on April 1. [from June to Feb. 26 to Feb. 5]

NEW MEXICO:  No changes required.  A law signed by Gov. Richardson in April 2003 gives the parties the option of selecting delegates through a presidential preference primary held on the same date as the state primary (as has been done in past) or "in accordance with the selection procedure" of the party.  [Democrats Feb. 5]

NEW YORK:  Leaders in the legislature acted to move the state's presidential primary from March 4 to February 5 to help home-state candidates Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).  On March 7, 2007 they introduced S.3544/A.6430, to move the spring primary (held in presidential years for electing delegates to the national conventions) from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February (the regular primary will still be held on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in September).  According to the justification for the Assembly bill, "Numerous states have moved, or are considering moving, their presidential primary to an earlier date.  Specifically, other influential states that have similar demographic profiles and similar public-policy issues to New York State`s are contemplating shifting their primaries to February 5.  A similar change will give New Yorkers an early voice in the selection of the best presidential candidates for the state and the nation and will reflect New York`s impact on and importance to our nation."  The bill passed both Houses of the State Legislature on March 21, 2007.  Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) signed it into law on April 9 stating, “Moving the primary date to February, we will help secure New York’s large and diverse population an influential voice in selecting the 2008 presidential nominees.”  [March 4 to Feb. 5]

TENNESSEE:  The House passed HB2211 to move the date for presidential preference primary from the second Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in February on March 22, 2007 by a vote of 91-2 (and 1 present), the Senate followed on April 16 and Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) signed the legislation into law on April 30. [Feb. 12 to Feb. 5]

UTAH:  In January 2006 Senate Majority Leader Peter Knudson (R) introduced a Western States Presidential Primary bill (S.B.60) to hold a presidential primary on the first Tuesday in February.  The Senate passed the bill by a wide margin in mid-February, the House followed on March 1 and Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) signed the measure into law on March 21, 2006.  [Feb. 5]

WEST VIRGINIA (R):  Republicans plan to select At-Large delegates to the Republican National Convention at a State Presidential Convention to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008at Charleston Civic Center.  District delegates will be elected in the May 13, 2008 primary election.  The process will begin with an enrollment period Sept. 1-Nov. 30, 2007. [Republicans Feb. 5]

WYOMING (R):  Wyoming Republicans plan to hold the party's 2008 county conventions on "the same date as the New Hampshire Republican Primary, whenever that may be."  [Feb. 3, 2007 letter [Jan. 5]

unsuccessful efforts to move earlier...
KANSAS:  Kansas last held a presidential preference primary in 1992.  In the first part of 2007 it appeared quite possible that the state might hold a primary in February 2008.  Such a move might provide a boost for homestate Sen. Sam Brownback, a candidate for the Republican nomination.  Stephanie Wing, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State, stated (Jan. 12, 2007 e-mail), "Several members of the legislature have publicly stated they are onboard, and one Senator (Senator Phil Journey, R-Wichita) is prepared to introduce a bill asking for one.  The governor is also supporting the idea, and included the funding in her new budget."  More broadly, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh hoped to build support for an early Midwestern regional primary.  On April 26 the House approved an amendment by Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Wichita) which would have provided $1.66 million to reimburse counties for a primary to be held on Feb. 2, 2008.  However by the end of the session the legislature failed to approve funding, and the parties will hold caucuses.
See John Hanna (AP).  "Will Midwestern bloc share a primary date in '08?" The Wichita Eagle, Dec. 1, 2006.
Tim Carpenter.  "Kansas presidential primary real possibility."  The Capital-Journal, Jan. 12, 2007.

MONTANA:  There were efforts in the 2007 and 2005 Legislative Sessions to move the presidential primary forward.  House Bill 797, introduced by Rep. Duane Ankney, would have required the Secretary of State to select by September 15th of the preceding year a date in February or March for the presidential preference primary election.  The House passed the bill on March 29, 2007, and it went to the Senate but died in standing committee.  Ankney's bill was very similar to House Bill 376, introduced by Rep. Christopher Harris on Jan. 20, 2005; that bill likewise passed the House but died in process in April 2005.

NORTH CAROLINA:  On Jan. 31, 2005 Sen. Andrew C. Brock (R) filed legislation, SB18, to move the presidential primary from the Tuesday following the first Monday in May to the first Tuesday in February.  The bill did not move from committee, however.  Brock reintroduced his bill, SB168, on Feb. 13, 2007, but it again languished in committee.

OREGON:  On April 3, 2007 the House Elections, Ethics, and Rules Committee passed H.B. 2084, a bill which would have set the first Tuesday in February 2008 as the date of the Oregon presidential primary election.  The bill did not advance further.

OHIO:  On July 17, 2007 State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) introduced S.B. No. 202, a bill to move the state's presidential primary election from the Tuesday after the first Monday in March to the last Tuesday in January.  The legislation did not advance.

PENNSYVLANIA:  On Dec. 13, 2004 Gov. Ed Rendell (D) established a 13-person Election Reform Task Force charged with examining six aspects of the state's elections, including the date of the presidential primary.  Rendell stated he wanted "to move the Pennsylvania primary as early as feasibly possible so that Pennsylvania voters may have a say in the selection of the Democratic and Republican nominees for President in 2008 and beyond."  In its final report, issued on May 12, 2005, the Task Force recommended moving presidential and state primary elections to the first Tuesday in March (for 2008 and 20012).  However the General Assembly must act for the change to be implemented.  Several bills (HB627, HB1661, SB40) were introduced in the 2005-06 session, but did not advance.  One bill made some headway in the 2006-07 session.   Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny)'s HB289, introduced in Feb. 2007, among other provisions would have moved the state's primary from the fourth Tuesday of April to the second Tuesday of February in presidential years.  On July 10, 2007 the House passed HB289 by a vote of 117-85.  However, the legislation did not advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

RHODE ISLANDRhode Island looked set to become a late entrant in the February 5 stampede until in early Nov. 2007, when Gov. Don Carcieri (R) vetoed a bill to move the presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February (Feb. 5, 2008), citing concerns of local election officials.   The General Assembly passed the legislation by Sen. Leonidas Raptakis (D-Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick) in a special session on Oct. 30, 2007. (press release)  Earlier, on Feb. 15, 2007 in the regular 2006 session, Raptakis had introduced a similar measure, S0740.  The Senate approved that measure on May 2, 2007 and referred it to the House Judiciary Committee, but it was not taken up.

TEXAS:  Texas came close to joining the stampede to Feb. 5, 2008.  Two bills HB 993 and HB 996 were also introduced in late January 2007 and a third, HB 2017, followed on Feb. 26.  On April 13, 2007 by a vote of 123 to 12 with 1 present and not voting the Texas House approved HB 2017, a bill to move the general primary and the presidential primary from first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.  However, the identical Senate bill, SB 1843, failed to advance and its sponsor, Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), removed it from the Senate intent calendar on May 23.  Stefan D. Haag, a professor of government at the Pinnacle Campus of Austin Community College, noted in an e-mail that one concern with this legislation was "the burden on election officials in conforming to new dates (registration deadlines, sending new registration cards, filing dates for candidates, etc.), many of which fall over the holiday season."

WESTERN STATES PRIMARY: The idea of organizing a Western states primary early in the nominating calendar in order to advance Western states' issues had been percolating for many years.  Then Colorado Gov. Roy Romer (D) first advocated a Western regional primary in the mid-1990s.  Again the lead up to 2000, then Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt (R) advocated a Western Regional Presidential Primary.  As originally outlined, the 2000 Western Primary would have grouped together up to eight Western states on an early March date in order to focus attention on Western issues and encourage the candidates to campaign in the region.  Ultimately only Colorado, Utah and Wyoming participated, holding contests on March 10.

In 2004 and 2005 proponents of the idea continued with their efforts.  They envisaged that eight states would hold primaries or caucuses on February 5, 2008: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.  In June 2004 Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), a prominent advocate, persuaded the Western Governors Association to pass a resolution on the matter.  Colorado political consultant Mike Stratton worked to promote the idea (March 7, 2005 press release).  A representative of Democrats for the West testified at the DNC Commission's May 14, 2005 meeting in Chicago.  On October 11, 2005 Gov. Richardson, Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) and a group of Utah legislators and party leaders held a press conference in Santa Fe to show bipartisan support for the idea and propose the February 5 date.  At the DNC's 2005 winter meeting in Phoenix, Western Democrats circulated a petition.

However, a shift occurred following the release of the DNC Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling's recommendations on December 10, 2005.  These included a call for the addition of one or two early first-tier caucuses.  The prospect that Nevada might be one of those early states appeared to address the objectives of Western Primary advocates (Feb. 2006 interview).  The DNC did indeed select Nevada to hold an early caucus.  Several Western states still are set to hold contests on February 5:
See also: Democrats for the West  |  Western Democrat blog (published by Mandate Media)

See also: NCSL changes in the 2004 cycle.  
Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action