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Oklahoma's presidential election day may move next year

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's presidential primary would be held earlier in the year under a measure approved by a Senate committee trying to give the state a bigger role in choosing the nation's chief executive.

Members of the Senate Committee on General Government voted 12-0 Monday to hold the state's presidential primary in 2004 on Feb. 17, three weeks after the New Hampshire primary, which is always the first in the nation.

``That's an open date _ no one else has it,'' said Sen. Keith Leftwich, sponsor of the measure. ``Hopefully, the presidential race won't decided by then.''

Oklahoma held its last presidential primary as part of ``Super Tuesday'' on March 13, 2000, and by that time George W. Bush had all but sewed up the Republican nomination and then-Vice President Al Gore had a lock on the Democratic nomination.

Leftwich said he wants to make Oklahoma ``a player in the presidential race'' like New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, the first states to pick their preferences for president.
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