SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — The state Assembly approved legislation Monday to bump the 2012 presidential primary in California to June, saving the state nearly $100 million in election costs.

AB80, which passed on a bipartisan 68-0 vote, would combine that election with the regular statewide primary in June.

Like many other states, California tried to boost its influence in picking the presidential nominees of both parties by moving its 2008 presidential primary to Super Tuesday in February. That move cost the state $97 million.

On Monday, no questions were raised in the Assembly’s swift passage of the bill, which now heads to the Senate.

Ron Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party, said a later primary would hurt all Californians. The national media would pay less attention to California issues in the 2012 election, he said, and GOP candidates would come to the state only to raise money for use elsewhere.

He expects that majority Democrats in the Legislature will move the primary back in 2016, when they will want more of a say in the national dialogue. The 2012 election is less of a priority for Democrats because President Barack Obama will not face a serious primary challenger.

Authored by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino, AB80 would align California’s next primary with the revised rules of both major political parties.

The Democratic National Committee will assign delegates to states in proportion to how long after March 6 they hold their primaries, while the Republican National Committee will cut in half the number of delegates to states that hold their primaries before April 1.

The legislation also is intended to increase turnout by reducing the number of times voters are called to the polls in 2012. It leaves room for the date change to be extended through all future presidential primaries.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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