Florida Appears Ready to Move up Date of Presidential Primary to January 31

By Dave Andrusko

Just when you thought the 2012 presidential cycle couldn’t get any more interesting, CNN reports that Florida is likely to move up its presidential primary to January 31. Should this come to pass—and Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon told NBC News “It is more than speculation. It’s my expectation that Jan. 31 will be the date”– the universally expected response is that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina will move their caucuses and primaries back to January, effectively “jumpstart[ing]  the nominating process a month earlier than party leaders had hoped,” according to CNN.

And, of course, this could start a chain-reaction where other states move up their primaries or caucuses in order to play a larger role in the nomination of the next Republican nominee for President. The first caucuses and primaries were not expected to begin until February 2012.

Florida’s decision would fly in the face of Republican National Committee’s rules. The RNC forbids any state other than these four from holding a contest before March 6.

In least in theory Florida runs the risk of losing “half of their delegates — party representatives who ultimately choose the nominee — to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, next August,” writes CNN’s Peter Hamby.

The upshot—besides Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina moving up? For starters, “If Florida decides to go in January, they blow the RNC planned calendar wide open and we’ll be back to campaigning over the holidays as Iowa and New Hampshire hold their presidential caucus and primary in early January,” Michigan National Committee member Saul Anuzis, who is on the RNC’s presidential nominating schedule committee, told CNN.

In addition, Hamby writes, a Florida move “would provoke a stampede to the front of the line as each state tries to maximize its influence in the process,” according to South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly.

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