Calif. Bulks Up With Early Primary Date

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shown in a Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005 file photo.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, FILE
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Tired of watching puny little states like New Hampshire and Iowa play a heavyweight role in presidential primary politics, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Thursday that his state was moving the date of its primary elections from June to early February.

Schwarzenegger said holding primaries in June meant the residental nominations were often locked up before Californians even had a chance to vote. "I'm happy to say these days are over….We will get the respect California deserves," he said.

The Los Angeles Times said the move "sent ripples across the country, pushing other states to follow and setting up Feb. 5 as a de facto national primary."

With other large states like New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey also pondering switching their primaries to the first Tuesday in February, the Washington Post said the move could lead to "the earliest and biggest single-day test of candidate strength ever."

Almost two dozen states could head to the polls that day, with more than half the total number of delegates needed to win a nomination up for grabs.

What does all this mean for the traditional early-voting powerhouses Iowa and New Hampshire, where the nation's first caucuses and primary will be held in January? Ironically, it may enhance their importance, experts say.

"The likelihood is that the early states become even more important because the one dynamic that is going to drive the February 5th outcome is momentum," Bill Carrick, a California Democratic consultant told the Times.

Valerie Plame Is Ready For Her Close-up

After nearly four years of silence, Valerie Plame is finally ready to talk. The woman whose unmasking as a CIA operative prompted an FBI investigation that shook Washington and resulted in the conviction of a former top White House aide is to appear Friday before a House committee.

The Washington Post says her testimony "will have all the trappings of a 'Garbo speaks' moment on Capitol Hill, with cameras and microphones arrayed to capture the voice of Plame, the glamorous but mute star of a compelling political intrigue."

Plame, 43, is expected to discuss the repercussions of the disclosure of her identity on her life, including a career cut short. And Democrats hope she can help them determine what role the White House may have played in leaking her name to reporters.

While Plame hopes to clarify her status as an undercover agency operative, which some critics have disputed, the Post points out that she's still bound by CIA secrecy rules and likely won't be able to reveal much about her mysterious career.

Maybe she's saving the juiciest details for her forthcoming book, "Fair Game," which is currently being reviewed by the CIA and for which she reportedly received a seven-figure sum. Or for the movie – Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, have sold the rights to their life story to Warner Bros.

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