Schwarzenegger signs legislation
to move California presidential primary to February
Photo courtesy Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
From the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
March 15, 2007
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed SB 113 authored by
Senator Ron Calderon (D- Montebello) at the Leland Stanford Mansion,
which was visited during the first-ever trip by a sitting U.S.
President - Rutherford B. Hayes - to California, in 1880. This
bill will move California's presidential primary to February,
from its current June date.
"Moving our presidential primary election from June to February
means California will have the influence it deserves in choosing
America's next presidential candidates, which is something California
really hasn't had since 1972," said Governor Schwarzenegger.
"This is a great first step and I am confident that by working
together with my partners in the Legislature we will soon be taking
more positive action to move ahead with other political reforms
for the people of California."
California has the largest population and congressional delegation
of any state in the union, yet its current June presidential primary
election date virtually ensures that party nominees are determined
long before California voters have an opportunity to cast their
ballots. Conducting the California presidential primary election
on the first Tuesday in February will encourage presidential candidates
to campaign in California, and to debate and discuss issues and
policies important to the people of California.
SB 113 adds a presidential primary election to be held in February
in years in which there is a November presidential election. The
bill still maintains the June statewide direct primary and provides
the intent of the Legislature to reimburse counties for the costs
of the presidential primary as soon as possible.
Moving up California's presidential primary is just the start
of the Governor's political reform discussion. When the Governor
was elected to office, he promised Californians that he would
bring integrity back to the political process and his highest
political reform priority has been reforming the state's redistricting
process. Governor Schwarzenegger is committed to working with
state legislators this year to change the current system, which
allows incumbents to draw their own district lines. The current
system presents an inherent conflict of interest, unfairly protecting
incumbents and undermining party competition. In the past three
election cycles only 4 of the 459 congressional and legislative
seats changed party hands. California needs an independent body
to draw legislative and Congressional districts. This will ensure
that voters have real choices in their elections. The people of
California should have the power to pick their elected officials,
not the other way around.
Governor Schwarzenegger has also proposed today banning political
fundraising during the budget season and at the end of the legislative
year as well as during the bill signing period. This important
political reform will restore voters' confidence in their lawmakers
by eliminating any appearance of "money in, favors out"
during a critical time in the budget-writing process. When he
ran for Governor in 2003, Schwarzenegger called for a fundraising
blackout during the budget-writing process.
See signing message below:
To the Members of the California State Senate:
I am signing Senate Bill 113.
For too long, presidential candidates have viewed California
as a place in which to raise large campaign contributions to spend
in other states. Moving California's presidential primary to February
will ensure that these candidates instead focus on earning the
support of California voters. As the most populous state in the
nation, California voters should have a far greater voice in determining
who earns their party's nomination.
Strengthening the voice of voters in the election process is
the foundation of our democracy, and moving the presidential primary
is a significant step for California on the national stage. However,
I believe we must strengthen the voice of California voters in
every election, and I will continue to work toward a comprehensive
political reform package. This is the year for fair and independent
redistricting, campaign finance reform and fixing California's
term limit law. We cannot stop until the job is done.
In addition, a separate presidential primary election does not
come without costs to California counties. As such, I am signing
this measure with the understanding that the Legislature will
reimburse counties for the costs of the presidential primary as
soon as possible.