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I got a chance today to talk with Assemblyman George Plescia, R-La Jolla, about the possibility of California moving its presidential primary to Feb. 5, 2008. He might have a little more on the line than just his desire to make California a player in the presidential game.

For those of you not quite up to date on this, it’s simple. We, Californians, aren’t scheduled to go to the polls again until June 2008. That day we’re scheduled to vote for who should run for president from each party. We here in San Diego are also supposed to vote for mayor, city attorney, and a bevy of City Council seats.

But Plescia just introduced a bill to move the presidential part of it up to February. He, like most everyone, has taken note of the fact that if California leaves its election until June, we will have virtually no say in who gets to run for president. By June, the game will be over and the candidates for the two major parties will be long decided.

So, Plescia wants to move it up.

This would mean we would vote for president in February, the rest of the primaries (like mayor) in June, and then the final general election in November.

Plescia wants Californians to have a chance to finally influence the presidential primaries.

“A lot of us are tired of California being treated like an ATM. They come here to raise money but don’t campaign here and leave to spend it getting their message out to people in other states,” Plescia said.

Moving the primary to February would “certainly make us a big player,” Plescia said.

Yes it would.

But it also might help Plescia stay in office.

The La Jolla Republican, like the two leaders of California’s Legislature, is termed out. He can’t run again in the June 2008 primary for Assembly. But as we’ve talked about, that might change too.

On the same February 2008 presidential ballot, some people are also planning to put a measure that would extend term limits. If voters approved it, Plescia and both Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata along with others, would get to run again.

Perata and Nuñez have been pretty open about their hopes to get something like this done.

So what about Plescia? Is he looking to get a chance to run again?

He said he supports changing term limits — calling them “bad for government” — and he would consider running again if they were changed.

“I certainly would look into it if voters said yes,” Plescia said.

State Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, told me recently that she didn’t think it was right to split up the votes, move the presidential primary to February and keep the rest of the state’s primaries in June — making voters go to the polls twice and pay for it all twice.

Plescia said he wasn’t dead set on moving only the presidential primary to February. He said that “it still had a long way to go” and that after all the discussions occur, if people decide they want to move the whole primary to February, he’d support that too.

But he said San Diego County shouldn’t worry about the cost of organizing an election both in February and in June.

“I certainly understand the county registrar’s concerns about cost but the state would have to pay for that election and cover the county’s cost,” Plescia said.

SCOTT LEWIS

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