many front-runners easily winning the lion's share of votes. By the time
the state's primary rolled around in June, the show was largely over.
That will change this year, when voters go to the polls in March.
With the landslide win by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) over George W.
Bush in New Hampshire, some politicos think California remains the major
battleground for the GOP's nomination.
"I think the results from New Hampshire re-energizes the race out here,"
said Tom Fuentes, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.
Fuentes and about 200 members gathered Tuesday night to watch the primary
at a Newport Beach office building. They were getting minute-by-minute
blows directly from the Granite State, via phone. Fuentes, like many, was
surprised by McCain's victory, but said no candidate should be discounted
"When they come to California, they won't be taking anything for
granted," he added. "There has been a lot of press about the Bush
campaign, but the New Hampshire race was a shaking result."
Fuentes believes the state's Republican legislators, along with the
public, will wait until the picture becomes more clear before deciding
who they will support.
A spokesman for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) said Thursday
that the congressman hasn't endorsed any candidate to date. Rohrabacher
couldn't be reached for comment because he was attending a party retreat
"As far as the New Hampshire results go, he thinks they largely have to
do with George Bush not identifying with any issues, while Sen. McCain
had vaguely dealt with reform [issues]," said spokesman Ricardo Bernal.
The next primary will be Tuesday in Delaware. But many candidates have
moved their troops to South Carolina, where voters will have their chance
on Feb. 19.
The state primary will be held on "Big Tuesday," March 7, when California
joins 11 other states in hosting primaries.