Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appears to be angling to capitalize on his Olympian performance in Utah to get the edge on former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and other rivals in the state’s GOP presidential primary next year. The former Massachusetts governor’s advisers want to get the primary moved from June 26 to the spring, according to The Salt Lake Tribune
Romney earned some clout in the Beehive State when he chaired the 2002 Olympics there, and statewide polls indicate that he probably would win the primary, the Tribune reported. But no sense in leaving things to chance when the prize is so big.
"The earlier it is the more likely that clash of the Utah titans would happen," the Tribune quotes Reid Wilson, editor of National Journal Hotline, as saying.
On the other hand, the presidential primary and the statewide primary for all Utah offices now is set for June 26, and moving up the presidential contest could cost taxpayers up to $3 million.
GOP Chairman Thomas Wright told the Tribune that setting the same date for both primaries was intended to be an efficient, and money-saving, idea. "Our priority was not to do what Mitt Romney thought was best. Our priority was to do what was best for Republicans and the state of Utah," Wright said. "What makes the most sense is not having the state pay for another primary."
But Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who is a Romney backer and the state’s elections supervisor, told the Tribune that the switch is possible.
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