Gov. Jan Brewer is leaning to moving Arizona's presidential primary to the last Tuesday in January in hopes of getting a jump on most other states.
The governor said she believes pushing the primary up from its current Feb. 28 schedule will give Arizona the national attention it deserves. Potentially more significant, she said it will force the candidates not only to spend time here in their quest for early victories but also require them to address issues of specific concern to state residents.
"Arizona is at the forefront of advancing solutions to national issues such as immigration and border security, Medicaid spending, and the financial crisis,'' Brewer said.
"It only makes sense that our state be positioned to have its voice heard loud and clear when it comes to the presidential nomination process,'' she continued. "Moving Arizona's presidential preference primary election into January would ensure that our citizens are major players in the 2012 campaign.''
Brewer does not need permission to make the change: The state law which sets the primary for the fourth Tuesday of February specifically gives the governor unilateral power to move it up to any date she wants. The only requirement is that she makes her decision at least 150 days before the new date.
That pretty much means by early September.
The governor acknowledged that Arizona would pay a price of sorts for trying to get ahead of other states.
To discourage such moves, Republican Party rules sharply reduce any state's delegate allocation if it tries to get ahead of four states which have been allowed to lead the pack: Iowa and Nevada with their party caucuses, and New Hampshire and South Caroline with their primaries. At this point, the Iowa caucuses are set for Feb. 6, (yes, on a monday) with the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
But Brewer said any penalty would be more than made up in putting Arizona on the national political map.
None of this guarantees, however, that Arizona will, in fact, get the jump.
Florida already has put itself on the political calendar for a Jan. 31 primary.
If that occurs, Iowa could move its caucus as early to Dec. 5 to keep its unique position. The New Hampshire primary then could follow eight days later, with caucuses in Nevada and the primary in South Carolina potentially occurring on the following Saturday.
The issue is of little concern to Democrats, at least this year. With an incumbent in the White House, the party is not likely to see a serious bid by challengers.