Jon Huntsman's debut may have been a flop with GOP voters, but Mitt Romney is apparently afraid enough of the impact the former Utah Governor could have on the race that he's not willing to simply deal him a defeat in New Hampshire. Instead, he's pushing for Utah to move up its primary from June of next year to an early spring date. Romney's likely to prevail in Utah, so I guess he'd like to get down to the business of rubbing Huntsman's face in that as early as possible.
On the other hand, Utah officials don't seem too keen on the idea of spending millions of dollars just to help Romney beat Huntsman. Here's Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune.
"The earlier it is the more likely that clash of the Utah titans would happen," said Reid Wilson, editor of National Journal Hotline, a leading political publication.
However, it could also end up costing taxpayers between $2.5 million and $3 million to stage the primary.
Right now, the Utah Republican Party is planning to hold its presidential primary on June 26, 2012, the same day as the statewide primary election for other Utah offices.
GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said the scheduling was a function of efficiency, so the state would only have to stage one primary election next year instead of two.
Gehrke goes on to report that "it would fall to taxpayers to bear that expense." Still, Mitt Romney will probably continue to campaign on a platform of austere government spending and fiscal efficiency.