first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – California came closer Wednesday to having more clout in presidential campaigns when a key Senate committee approved a bill that would move up the primary to early February, beginning in 2008. The bill cleared the Senate Elections Committee by a 3-0 vote, and it could come before the full Senate today. Supporters – including legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – hope that moving the primary election from June to Feb. 5 would give Californians more political muscle in choosing presidential nominees. “California has the biggest and most influential state in the union, yet the current presidential primary virtually ensures major party nominees will be determined long before voters cast their ballots,” said Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who is sponsoring the bill. “California deserves to play a major role in deciding who the presidential nominee is.” The bill faced no opposition in the committee, although the state’s leading elections clerk worried that counties would be stretched thin with an extra election. “You don’t want to mess up the next election by trying to finish up the last one,” said Stephen Weir, the Contra Costa County clerk and president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. “We want to make sure we’re executing our planning in a smart way, not in such a fast pace that we make mistakes.” An additional election would cost $60 million to $90 million, but lawmakers assured election officials that the state would reimburse counties. California moved up its primary to March 2 for the 2004 primaries, but the impact the state had hoped for withered under the perception that Sen. John Kerry had already wrapped up the Democratic nomination. sharmon@cctimes.com (916) 441-2101last_img read more