Brewer decides against moving Arizona's presidential primary - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Brewer decides against moving Arizona's presidential primary

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Posted: Monday, September 12, 2011 7:03 pm

It's official: Gov. Jan Brewer will not use her power to move up the date when Arizonans choose who they favor for each party's presidential nominee.

Brewer on Monday signed a proclamation setting the election for Feb. 28.

That move was not legally necessary. State law automatically schedules the vote for the fourth Tuesday in February but gives the governor the power to advance that to any earlier date.

But the decision ends fears within the Republican Party that Brewer would cause political chaos, as other states which already are scheduled to go before Arizona then scrambling to keep their position in line.

Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said his boss remains satisfied that, even with Arizona following events in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the state will still play a major role in selecting the GOP nominee.

"It gets Arizona in front of the Super Tuesday states,'' Benson said, referring to primaries on March 6 in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, with caucuses in Colorado, Idaho and Minnesota.

What Brewer also got when she first discussed -- and scrapped -- moving the primary up as early as Jan. 31 was a preliminary commitment from the Republican National Committee to schedule a debate among contenders in Arizona.

Benson said those arrangements are "moving forward,'' with the Arizona Republican Party reviewing proposals from various media "partners.'' He said the party will look at what kind of audience a partner could bring and how the debate would be formatted before making a choice.

He brushed aside questions of whether the party would favor one outlet over another based on a network's perceived political stance or who the network proposes to have moderate the event.

"It's generally decided on who can put on the best debate,'' Benson said.

Any date before Feb. 28 would have had ripple effects.

The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, who said he has unilateral authority to schedule his state's primary, said he would not let Arizona go first. That, in turn, would have affected New Hampshire, where the primary is now set for Feb. 14, as state law requires its primary to be at least one week before any other similar event.

And Iowa, which has party caucuses scheduled for Feb. 6, has rules requiring them to be held ahead of New Hampshire.

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