Bloomberg News

South Carolina Picks Earlier Primary Date After Florida Move

October 03, 2011

(For campaign news, see ELECT <GO>.)

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- South Carolina will hold its Republican presidential primary on Jan. 21, the state party said today, a decision that is likely to shift the first round of balloting to just after New Year’s Day.

“South Carolina Republicans have a 30-year track record of picking the eventual Republican presidential nominee,” the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Chad Connelly, said in a statement. “We will continue that historic tradition.”

South Carolina’s move was prompted by Florida’s decision last week to flout national Republican party rules and hold its primary on Jan. 31.

The new dates are likely to set off a domino effect among the traditional early-voting states, shifting the start of the nominating contests a month earlier than national party leaders had planned.

Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada also are expected to uphold their traditional status as the first voting states by moving their caucus or primary dates to early January.

New Hampshire may hold its contest as early as Jan. 10, said Steve Duprey, a national committeeman of the state Republican party. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has not officially set the date.

That would mean Iowa would hold its caucuses on Jan. 3, forcing candidates to campaign during the holiday season.

The Nevada Republican party voted on Oct. 1 to hold its caucuses on the Saturday following the New Hampshire vote, once that state sets its date.

First Four

With the exception of the traditional first four early- voting states, the Republican National Committee had forbidden any primary or caucus vote prior to March 6. According to the party’s rules, any state with a contest before that date will lose half of its convention delegates. The threat has proved ineffective in previous years because a nominee can request that disqualified delegates’ voting rights be restored.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced last week that his state would hold its primary on March 6 to keep its relevance in the nominating process without breaking party rules.

Two other states, Arizona and Michigan, have said that they will set their balloting for Feb. 28.

--Editors: Laurie Asseo, Leslie Hoffecker

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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