Stateline Story

Arizona Mulls Primary Move

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) may throw a monkey wrench into an already complicated 2008 presidential primary calendar by scheduling her state's nominating date before "Super-duper" Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, when at least 19 other states weigh in.
 
Arizona law gives its governor a rare power to change the primary by proclamation. "It's great to be governor," Napolitano told Stateline.org in an interview during the National Governors Association summer meeting here.
 
In all other states, legislatures and/or secretaries of state decide when their voters go to the polls to pick nominees for the White House.
 
Napolitano, who ends her one-year stint as NGA chair July 23, said she hopes to make a decision on whether to move the primary within a month. Otherwise, Arizonans will vote Feb. 26.
 
When asked to comment on states' mad dash to be first in line in the presidential nominating schedule, Napolitano said, "It is what it is. … I don't think anybody now can tell you whether it's good or bad." But she said the parties should take a hard look at 2008 and determine "Did this make sense?"
 
In an unprecedented move, states this year have upended the  2008 presidential primary calendar to give their voters a greater say in choosing candidates.  Florida injected new tumult by leaping ahead to Jan. 29, behind only Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wyoming [ Click here for Stateline.org's schedule of state presidential primary dates
 
The number of states slated to open the polls Feb. 5, 2008, far outpaces the 1984 "Super Tuesday" that involved 14 states.
 
Napolitano said she has held off endorsing any of the Democratic presidential candidates while she headed NGA. "Now, I will dive back in and really think it through" in choosing among the Democratic challengers for president. Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty takes the helm of the organization July 23 for the next year.
 
Looking back on her year as NGA chair, Napolitano said "the whole Washington, D.C., interaction" was much more difficult than she had anticipated. "The administration, Washington, D.C., as a whole, has been AWOL" on major public-policy issues, including energy, health care, education and immigration, she said. "All of these things have been punted to the states, and it's very difficult to get the kind of collaboration with our federal colleagues that we would like to see."