Blame it on New Mexico

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From the Washington Post:

South Carolina’s Republican Party will move its 2008 presidential primary forward to Jan. 19, sources said yesterday, a decision almost certain to spark a cascade of calendar changes that could push the start of voting to New Year’s Day or even to before Christmas.

The move, set to be announced today, is likely to cause the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses to be shifted at least to early January, and other states are actively angling to stake out spots earlier in the process. The maneuvering has injected a new note of uncertainty into what is already the earliest-starting presidential campaign in history, and top strategists for the candidates said it would force them to revise their carefully worked out plans.

New Mexico is to partly blame, and, in part, so is Gov. Bill Richardson. He’s been pushing for a Western state to move its primary up for a couple of years, and, indeed, for a unified Western Primary. I’ve been following the issue for a while, since I’ve long held that issues Westerners face (peak water, more dangerous fire seasons, rapid growth, energy development, the environment, etc) are important ones to an ever-growing number of people:

Tradition should stand for something, but at the end of the day, our country’s leaders should not be chosen based solely on their knowledge of corn. A Western primary, early in the schedule, will force more candidates to focus on issues important to us Westerners. As growth (itself an issue) continues to skyrocket in parts of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, our prominence on the national scene should increase apace.

Granted, if I had known it would domino like this (Nevada’s adoption of an early caucus is one of the factors leading to South Carolina’s decision) I might have been more hesitant in supporting an early Western primary.

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