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A Los Angeles resident inserts his ballot to vote in the November 2006 midterm elections. California was among the many states where voters approved bond measures. - 


SCOTT JAGOW: California's house votes today on moving the state's presidential primary from June to February. The state senate approved this yesterday. As Pat Loeb reports, a lot of money's at stake.

PAT LOEB: Presidential candidates tend to treat California like an ATM.

They come here to fundraise, then they don't even campaign. That's because the race is pretty much decided by the time California's primary rolls around.

State lawmakers say the February primary will change that. They hope issues of concern to Californians — such as immigration and global warming — will get more attention in the campaign.

But political strategists say the biggest impact is the cost of campaigning in California, which they estimate to be $6 to $8 million. That will end up giving an advantage to front-runners.

Republican consultant Dan Schnur says both parties would like to discourage the early primary.

DAN SCHNUR: It really eliminates the kind of scrutiny that candidates need before they become their party's nominee.

But the bill has the full backing of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Because I'm interested to make California a player.

Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill into law quickly.

In Los Angeles, I'm Pat Loeb for Marketplace.