Presidential races

South Carolina moves its primary to Jan. 21

South Carolina Republicans will move their primary up to Jan. 21, making them the first domino to fall after Florida moved its date up to Jan. 31 last Friday and pushing the other early-voting states to schedule their dates even earlier in the month.

The state’s move will cost it half its delegates at the Republican National Convention because of Republican National Committee (RNC) rules designed to keep the primary process from interfering with the holiday season. But South Carolina’s response is just the first that ensures this will not happen — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all plan to hold their primaries and caucuses before South Carolina’s.

{mosads}South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly slammed Florida for its move during his announcement of South Carolina’s move. “Forty-nine states played pretty in the sandbox,” he said. “Only one did it wrong.

“A nine-person committee brought chaos to the Republican nominating calendar,” said Connelly, attacking the nine-member Republican commission that moved the state’s primary. “Today, South Carolina restores order.”

Connelly praised RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, but said that South Carolina’s loss of half its delegates as the result of the move was “just not right” and that he would push hard against the rule.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said on Friday that he might move the state’s primary up into December, which would make it the earliest in history. The state’s filing deadline for candidates now ends on Oct. 28.

{mossecondads}Besides its impact on timing for the current candidates, the quickly shifting primary calendar could make it even tougher for those considering a last-minute campaign, like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. If one or both do choose to run, they’ll have an even shorter time period to build a campaign structure in the early-voting states and raise the money they’d need to run a serious campaign.

The tightening calendar could also have an adverse effect on lesser-known presidential candidates who are counting on momentum from a strong early performance in Iowa or New Hampshire. A truncated calendar would make it harder for them to translate any momentum into the donations needed to compete in an expensive state like Florida and continue their campaigns into other states.

The convention will be held in Tampa at the end of August.


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