Governor Jerry Brown at a podium points at someone in the crowd.
Gov. Jerry Brown. State photo

California residents could find themselves playing a greater role in the next presidential election, with the governor Wednesday signing a bill by a Bell Gardens legislator that moves the state’s primary elections to early March.

Dubbed the Prime Time Primary Act, the legislation by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, moves California’s primary elections to the first Tuesday in March. That means the next presidential primary election will be held March 3, 2020.

“The Prime Time Primary puts California voters in the front seat in choosing our next president and will change our elections for the better,” Lara said.

“We have a responsibility to drive a different agenda at the national level and promote inclusion and consensus, not the politics of division,” the senator said, referencing the election of President Donald Trump — whose GOP nomination was essentially sewn up before California’s primary last year.

In 2008, California held its presidential primary on Feb. 5 as part of that year’s “Super Tuesday,” which included primaries and caucuses in 21 other states. According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, that election saw the state’s highest voter turnout for a primary since 1980. The state also held a second round of primaries for legislative and congressional offices.

In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law pushing the state’s presidential primary back to June, saying it would save the state the roughly $100 million cost of holding a second round of primaries. The new legislation moves all primaries to March, negating the need for separate primaries.

Backers of the return to an earlier vote said the state’s June primary effectively diluted the state’s national impact on the presidential nominations process, even though California has 19.4 million registered voters, more than any other state.

“California’s primary will officially be in prime time,” Padilla said. “Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation as they seek our country’s highest office.

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.”

–City News Service

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