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S.C. to hold primary Jan. 21

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Blaming Florida's primary selection committee for creating "chaos" in the primary calendar, South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly announced that the Palmetto State will hold its primary on Saturday, Jan. 21st, 10 days before Florida's on the 31st.

"We will hold our primary on a date that not only benefits the citizens of South Carolina and maximizes our voters' time with the candidates but also in a way that will benefit Republican voters all across America," Connelly said.

This most likely means that the Iowa and New Hampshire contests take place in early and mid-January.

He said 10 days was enough time for candidates to invest in South Carolina's relatively small media market, but added that the compressed calendar would harm his state party's fundraising efforts and voter's chances to meet the hopefuls.

"I lose a month of fundraising time," he complained. "We lose a month of people getting to know these candidates."

But Connelly insisted that candidates would not skip South Carolina to spend more time in Florida.

"Any candidate who ignores our state does so at great peril," he said.

Connelly also called for the Republican National Committee to strip Florida's delegates from the Republican National Convention and to keep intact all delegates in South Carolina and the rest of the early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada), who will have to move their primaries up to January, against RNC rules, because of Florida's move.

He also said conversations with the leaders in the other three early states have indicated to him that a December primary will not happen -- though NBC's Jo Ling Kent reports New Hampshire's Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has unilateral control over the Granite State's primary date, continued to float December as a possibility. Connelly also said South Carolina will be holding a presidential debate in the days leading up to the primary, but that a date had not yet been secured.