If Arizona wants to move up its primary, the first-four states may jump ahead of it together.
South Carolina Republican Party chairman Chad Connelly told NBC News the South Carolina GOP is working on an arrangement for the other three carve-out states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida -- to move as a bloc ahead of Arizona. But it's not a done deal in Florida.
As mentioned in First Thoughts today, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer might announce tomorrow that she’s moving her state’s primary up to Jan 31 -- a violation of the RNC’s rule that only the traditional first four “carve-out” states can hold their contests before March 6th.
Brewer said yesterday that such a move would give her state “the spotlight for the West.”
If Brewer does, in fact, move the primary up (state law requires her to announce her decision by Saturday), that would force the other states to push their contests into January in order to retain their RNC-sanctioned early voting status.
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn was quoted in Politico earlier this month as saying, “The date may change, but the order won’t.”
This agreement would “calm the waters” among the states, Connelly said, and allow Florida to be the first state after the RNC-sanctioned early four contests, without the threat of being leapfrogged by Arizona.
South Carolina would also retain its “first-in-the-South” primary status without having to worry about Florida trying to steal its spotlight.
Florida Republican Party spokesman Brian Hughes said, however, that any such conversations are currently moot as the state’s primary selection committee -- made up of nine appointees, three each from Gov. Rick Scott, state House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos -- has not even been formed yet. The committee has until Oct. 1 to announce the state’s primary date.
Meanwhile, South Carolina gives the party chairman the authority to change its primary date, so Connelly can unilaterally decide when to hold it.
“There is no way for the chairman of the party or the governor to stand up in front of anyone and say, 'Here’s the date',” Hughes told NBC News. He added, however, that Florida Republicans want the state to have “the earliest possible date that reflects how important this state is” not just in the primary, but also the general election.