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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.


Arnold Schwarzenegger




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