California Gives Up on Presidential Election Clout

California couldn't muscle its way to influence on this one.

The governor late Friday signed AB80, which moves the state's presidential primary from February back to June, the date it occupied for decades.

It's an effort that will result in "saving millions of taxpayer dollars," according to Gov. Jerry Brown's press spokesman.

But it's also an admission that the experiment to boost California's clout in the presidential selection process was a failure.

Back in 1996, the primary was moved up to March. 

Then in 2008, it moved up to the earliest date ever in California, the first Tuesday in February.  

The idea was to prompt candidates to actually campaign here, not just come to raise money.

Nice in theory. But other states took note.   

Thirty-three of them also moved up their primary.  Fifteen others staged their election on the same day as California.  End result?  California didn't matter after all.

Candidates are reluctant to campaign in the state, despite the fact that California has 20 percent of the electoral college votes needed to win the presidency. 

The state's too big, and too expensive to engage in retail campaigning.  Hopefuls can get a lot more bang for their buck in South Carolina or Iowa.

There is some partisan grumbling about the move. 

But there's little evidence that the earlier vote has done more than result in a bigger bill to California's taxpayers.

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