By MELINDA SEMADENI
Leaders of eight western states are trying to throw their hat into the political arena by creating a Rocky Mountain Presidential primary. Governor Mike Leavitt said Monday he is hopeful that four of the eight states will participate in the western primary.
Speakers at the conference conference of the Western Governor’s Association emphasized it was time for the west to compete with other regional primaries in New England, the South and the Great Lakes States and let their voice be heard.
Cecil Andrus, former US secretary of the Department of the Interior and Governor of Idaho said the west has been ignored for far too long.
Andrus said he does not believe there is a region in the nation today that mirrors the rest of the nation, like the Rocky Mountain West does.
“We are a region where the world economy is a vital consideration. The top four job producing states in all America and the top five population growth areas are in the Rocky Mountain area,” Andrus said.
Monday’s conference focused on timing for the primary. WGA delegates are hoping to target the primary for March of the year 2000.
However, some states already have primaries and are concerned about potential conflicts.
Some Democrats worry if the primary or caucus preceded the first Tuesday in March, they would not be allowed to seat any Democratic National Committee members or 25 percent of district delegates.
One proposed compromise suggested by delegates was to push the date a few days ahead to avoid any red tape.
Leavitt acted as moderator for the discussion and urged members to reach a consensus.
Highlighting the strategic advantages for potential candidates, Leavitt said the western primary could serve as a momentum builder going into Super Tuesday in New Hampshire.
“If you want to run a southern and a western strategy, being able to campaign in the West and California, which are only an hour apart, is a significant advantage,” Leavitt said.
Attendees of the two day WGA conference comprise delegates from Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.
WGA leaders are expected to vote on the resolution on Tuesday, following meetings that will evaluate each state’s commitment to the primary. Finalization will follow in June of 1999.