LOS ANGELES — California is pushing forward with a plan to change the state’s primary date from June to March, a move that could scramble the 2020 presidential nominating contest and swing the early weight of the campaign to the West.
If adopted by the legislature this week — as is widely expected — and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the early primary would allocate California’s massive haul of delegates just after the nation’s first contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
The earlier primary could benefit at least two potential presidential contenders from California — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — while jeopardizing the prospects of other candidates who will struggle to raise enough early money to compete in expensive media markets in the nation’s most populous state.
“In all probability, the winner of the California primary would be the nominee,” said Don Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman from South Carolina.
While acknowledging that “a lot of this rationale this far in advance just is completely wrong,” Fowler said: “The implications for the flow of the winnowing process [of candidates] is very significant in moving California.”