Clock runs out for Utah's 2016 primary hopes

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Utah's push to become the first-in-the-nation presidential primary for 2016 died Friday as the state legislature gaveled to a close. 

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The state House easily passed a bill Monday proposing the Utah presidential primary election be held before any other primary or caucus. The bill, however, didn't get a vote in the state Senate, and the 45-day session ended at 12 a.m. Friday morning. 

Iowa has historically been the nation's first nominating state, with its presidential caucus. New Hampshire usually carries the title of the first primary.

The Republican National Committee revamped its rules this year to discourage states from jumping the gun on the usual early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. 

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Republican state Rep. Jon Cox, the author of the bill, said the current nominating process is unfair and creates "second class states." He said the only way to get a fairer system is for someone to cut in line. 

The proposal pushed by Cox would have also stipulated that the election take place through electronic ballot online, and tasked the governor to come up with a secure system to do so. 

If Utah would have approved the measure and ultimately broken the Republican National Committee rules, it would have been penalized with a limited number of delegates at the GOP nominating convention. Its 40 delegates would be reduced to nine. Cox said he would have been fine with that. 

“New Hampshire gets 12 delegates,” Cox said. “Their 12 matters a lot more than our 40, so for us to go to nine, that’s not much of a penalty at all.”

While Utah's legislative session ended this week, he said there is always next year. 

“I think it’s something we would re-engage possibly in 2015,” he said. 

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