Changes to 2012 Election Calendar in the Works

One of the many cuts proposed in Washington Governor Chris Gregoire's next budget - which she made public on Wednesday (December 15) - is canceling the state's 2012 presidential primary to save $10 million, The Seattle Times reports .

Washington, of course, is not a major nominating battleground, and its primary tends not to receive a lot of time and attention from presidential candidates. In 2008 - when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were fighting nationally for every last delegate - the two Democratic campaigns ignored Washington to focus instead on precinct caucuses to collect delegates in other states, The Times notes. 

Now, in the face of a $4 billion budget shortfall, Gregoire - and Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state's chief elections official - see dropping the primary election as a natural way to cut costs. "Ordinarily, I would be the last to propose suspending an election," Reed says, "but these are not ordinary times and we all are looking for ways to tighten our belts and live within our means."

Meanwhile, in Florida - the biggest of all presidential swing states - newly empowered Republicans are considering replacing their early primary with a straw poll as early as the fall of next year, The Miami Herald reports .

The GOP is in a predicament in Florida because, under new national party rules, the state stands to lose half of its delegates if it holds a primary in January 2012, as currently scheduled.

Republicans instead are weighing "a non-binding Florida straw poll at a massive event billed as 'Presidency V,' which would also feature a nationally televised presidential debate," The Herald reports. "The plan, still in its infancy, enjoyed wide support from Republican Party of Florida leaders at its quarterly meeting last weekend."