The Arizona Democratic Party, according to the Arizona Republic, has decided abandon what would have been a non-compliant presidential primary on February 28 and instead start the delegate selection process with the already-scheduled district caucuses on March 31 (see page 7 of the proposed delegate selection plan from March 2011 for more on the district caucuses1).
The apparent reason for the change -- the stated reason anyway -- was to save Arizona taxpayers some money. But the Arizona secretary of state's office is absolutely right in the article from the Arizona Republic. Unless all Arizona parties opted out of the primary, the savings are negligible if not nonexistent. What's strange is that the ADP could very easily have filed a waiver with the national party to be exempted from penalties associated with a non-compliant primary. While no Democrats made any effort in the state legislature during the spring session to introduce any bill shifting the date on which the presidential primary was held -- something that is a requirement to have a waiver granted (see Minnesota) -- the matter was out of their hands anyway. As was witnessed in the late summer when Governor Jan Brewer (R) was threatening to move the primary up to January, the power rested with her and very much out of the hands of any Democrat with any power in the state government. She did not need to use her proclamation power to set a primary on the fourth Tuesday in February because that is the date called for in state law. However, Governor Brewer did use that power and thus demonstrated how little influence the ADP had in the process. State Democratic Parties with no recourse like that (see Florida 2008) are or can be granted some leeway by the party in terms of the penalties associated with a non-compliant contest.
I know what you're thinking. Why does any of this matter anyway? It doesn't. Ultimately, it is up to the state party to decide how it wants to allocate its delegates, and the Arizona Democratic Party, with no real competition in the contest anyway, mind you, has taken the caucus route.
Note: Take note of the fact that the territories have now been added to the map. An updated 2012 presidential primary calendar can be found here.
1 There is no updated, finalized and DNC-approved plan posted on the Arizona Democratic Party web page. FHQ has a call into the ADP and will update this information when they get back to me.