Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday to move up California’s 2020 presidential primary in a bid to give the nation’s most populous state more sway in choosing the Republican and Democratic nominees.
Holding an earlier primary in California, which is expensive to campaign in, could shake up the nominating contests by giving an earlier edge to candidates with more money. The state is home to 11 media markets.
The measure puts the state’s primary on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, often known as “Super Tuesday,” when as many as a dozen states hold nominating contests. It will still fall after the earliest caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire.
In 2016, California held its primary in June when Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump were already the major party nominees. California typically awards the most delegates.
The state moved its presidential primary to February in 2008, but the shift did not exert influence on the Democratic side. Clinton won the state’s primary, but Barack Obama went on to capture the party’s nomination.
The change also pushes California’s primary for state offices to March.
The Democratic and Republican national committees have not set rules for the 2020 contest yet. The parties set a calendar as well as how many delegates each state is awarded.
California received extra delegates for holding a late primary in 2016 and likewise could be punished in 2020 for moving up the election.