Ariz. gov wants early primary 'if at all possible'
PHOENIX (AP) — The possibility of Arizona being the site for a GOP presidential candidates' debate remains on the table as Gov. Jan Brewer considers moving up the date of the state's 2012 primary, a former Republican Party state chairman said Thursday.
"That's pretty much it," former chairman Randy Pullen said when asked whether topics other than hosting a debate in Arizona were being discussed as alternatives to moving up the primary date.
Brewer disclosed in July that she's considering moving up the primary from Feb. 28 to Jan. 31 to get the state and its concerns more attention. Her office said Monday that having GOP candidates debate in Arizona might achieve the same purpose.
"She wants to make Arizona very relevant this primary election," Pullen said of Brewer, citing her concerns over illegal immigration and the federal health care overhaul. "She'd like to have a debate to feature those issues prominently."
Brewer faces a Saturday deadline to under state law to act if she decides to advance the primary to Jan. 31.
Her spokesman, Matthew Benson, said Thursday the outcome of the issue remained uncertain. Pullen said getting a party-sanctioned debate is not certain.
"I think we're pretty close to getting a debate. I can't say it's certain," Pullen said.
A Republican National Committee spokesman who has said party officials were trying to keep Arizona from moving up its primary date did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.
An earlier primary date for Arizona would likely trigger a stampede by early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire to move up their contests into January to stay up front.
Arizona's current Feb. 28 primary date already falls too early under national party rules, and the state could lose half its delegates to the Republican national convention.