Missouri Senate backs early presidential primary

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 8:49 p.m. CDT; updated 10:29 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 16, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation setting the state's 2012 presidential primary near the front of the pack — potentially violating Republican and Democratic party rules aimed at preventing a crush of early primaries.

Under state law, Missouri holds presidential primaries on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February. One state senator introduced a bill this year moving the 2012 primary to early March.

But on Wednesday, the Senate approved an amendment setting Missouri's primary one week after New Hampshire's, traditionally the first in the nation.

New Hampshire hasn't yet scheduled its 2012 primary, but its law requires that the primary be held at least one week before that of any other state.

The legislation needs another Senate vote before going to the House.

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