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California GOP Primary 2012 Could Have Determined The Winning Presidential Candidate (VIDEO)

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No one wants to feel like an ATM for anyone else. Unfortunately, that's just what California has been for political candidates for years.

And California has let it happen again this year. The Republican candidates--Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul--have all come to California for cash and then left us to appeal to voters elsewhere.

What's worse, we got our hopes up this year that maybe our vote in the primary would matter. The headlines in mid-March read "California could decide the GOP nominee" and "Calif. Could Be Key To GOP Presidential Nomination."

The thought was that, because the GOP primary seemed to be dragging out, California, with a whopping 172 delegates and as a winner-takes-all state, could give the winning candidate the delegates he needs to win the nomination.

While all four GOP candidates were doing the usual heavy-weight fundraising in California, we had our fingers crossed that they might also look at us as voters. As Republican Party of San Diego Chairman Tony Krvaric told 10News, there was hope that "presidential candidates [would] pay attention to California issues."

But now, it is only early April, and Romney is believed to have won the race, even though Santorum, Gingrich and Paul haven't stepped out of it. Our vote on June 5 won't make a difference.

In the video above, Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee looks back at when California politicians finally had enough of being pick-pocketed and then ignored. They moved California's June 5 voting date up, but the races were still already determined before they hit the golden state.

So, Walters explains, California politicians "gave up." However, because this year's primary has been a particularly long fight, Walter says, "The irony is that this is one year in which having an early primary could have made California count for something."

George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times makes the same point, albeit with a bit more frustration. While he recognizes that an earlier vote date hasn't made much of a difference in the past for the ATM state, he points to California's Feb. 5 2008 vote that rescued Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy as an example that it's possible.

However, Gov. Jerry Brown and his Democratic state legislature decided this year to combine presidential balloting with the regular state primary on June 5. Why, you ask, would California voluntarily sit back as the second-to-last state to vote in the primary? As Skelton puts it, "Since there was no fight for the Democratic nomination, the majority party could not have cared less about a presidential primary. Also, they didn't want the GOP to get energized. Keep it lethargic."

It looks like California, despite being the most populous state in the U.S., will, once again, have no influence over who the country's next president will be. Except, that is, for the state's wealthiest.

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