Colorado may move caucuses to Feb. 5 |

Colorado may move caucuses to Feb. 5

DENVER ” The House gave initial approval Monday to a plan to move the state’s presidential caucuses from March to Feb. 5 along with several other states, hoping to cash in on the national attention it would bring from candidates.

The bill (House Bill 1376) would allow political parties to decide whether to move the caucuses from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February during presidential election years. It passed with little debate.

Rep. Michael Garcia, D-Aurora, said the bill doesn’t require parties to do anything.

“This bill is totally permissive,” said Garcia.

The bill faces a third reading in the House before it goes to the Senate.

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Republicans said they are worried about moving up the date for caucuses for state offices because it would give candidates less time to rally their supporters. The bill would apply to caususes for state as well as federal offices.

Republicans lost control of both chambers in the Legislature in 2004 and hope to retake the House in 2008. To do that, they need to focus not only on the high-profile offices but on lower-tier races as well.

Democrats said separate caucuses would cost too much.

Several Western states have moved up their primaries and caucuses or are considering it. Nevada’s caucus is set for Jan. 19, between the Iowa caucus on Jan. 14 and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 22. Utah and New Mexico have scheduled theirs for Feb. 5.

Political consultant Katy Atkinson said moving up the caucuses will have little impact on the national attention Colorado gets from candidates because the state still only has nine electoral votes.

“It’s not going to make us that much more of a player,” she said.

She said it will give Colorado voters more of a role in picking a presidential candidate.

“We’ll have a little more suspense than if we waited,” she said.

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