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Ohio primary wrangling shakes up 2012 calendar

After months of wrangling over the front end of the GOP primary calendar, partisan fighting in Ohio is still shaking up the middle and late months of the 2012 schedule.
 
The situation in Ohio couldn't be more confusing. The Buckeye State was slated to have two separate primaries, with its presidential primary held in June. The split primary would cost the state an extra $15 million. Lawmakers sought to consolidate the contests, but partisan disagreement over the state's redistricting plan held up a bill unifying the primaries on one date.
 
Earlier this week, the logjam broke. The Ohio House and Senate passed House Bill 369, moving the state's presidential primary to March 6 (Super Tuesday). The bill now goes to Governor John Kasich's desk.
 
Observers may remember less than two weeks ago when lots of buzz surrounded whether or not Newt Gingrich would meet Ohio's December 7 filing deadline. It was ultimately a moot point because even if Ohio lawmakers did nothing to consolidate the primary date, a separate law would have kicked in reopening filing.
 
The story of Gingrich getting on the ballot did, however, raise questions about his campaign organization. On December 7, Gingrich had not filed up to four hours before the state's 4:00 p.m. deadline, but his campaign did ultimately make the cutoff. Interestingly, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's office, there were only three other candidates who did properly file by that date to get on either party's primary ballot: Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama. Ron Paul, who is pretty well organized in the Buckeye state according to a GOP source in Ohio, did not file before the seemingly meaningless December 7 deadline.
 
If Governor Kasich signs HB 369, the new filing deadline will be on December 30, 67 days before the March 6 primary. All of the candidates will have to re-file to get on the ballot, but unlike the previous filing requirements, it would be easier to get on the ballot the second go-round. Under the new law a candidate can get on Ohio's ballot if he or she has raised at least $5,000 in at least 20 states. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Buddy Roemer has raised over $200,000. It's unclear how many states the money comes from, but perhaps there will less scrambling leading up to the next Ohio filing deadline.
 
Ohio, with its 63 delegates, is a significant addition to Super Tuesday. Combined with the fact that a separate fight in Texas may bump the Lone Star State and its 155 delegates to April, Super Tuesday could look much different than we thought come March.