updated 11/27/2007 9:25:10 AM ET 2007-11-27T14:25:10

Massachusetts moved its presidential primary to Feb. 5, joining some two dozen states holding contests on what amounts to a mega-primary day.

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Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill Monday to move the state's presidential primary from March 4 to Feb. 5, a switch intended to give Massachusetts voters more clout in the nominating process.

Proponents of the earlier date argued that moving the primary will ensure that Massachusetts has some clout in a presidential race that may be all but decided after Super Tuesday.

Critics also said the switch could potentially hurt Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor running for president.

Changing the Massachusetts primary to the same day as states like New York, California and Illinois could pose a challenge to Romney, who may have to expend time and resources in Massachusetts to avoid an embarrassing loss in his home state.

Several high profile Republicans in Massachusetts, including former Gov. Paul Cellucci, are supporting Romney foe Rudy Giuliani.

But Massachusetts supporters of Romney, including former Gov. William Weld and a majority of Republican state lawmakers, say they are confident Romney can win the state, and the switch in date will be a boost to his campaign.

The push to change the day moved through the Massachusetts House and Senate swiftly. Both chambers gave the bill final passage last week, forwarding it to Patrick's desk.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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