UPDATE: Politico.com is reporting this morning that S.C. GOP chairman Chad Connelly — who Wednesday morning slammed Florida for its planned Jan. 31 primary — has scheduled a press conference Thursday morning at the state capitol in Columbia, but officials said he will not be revealing the state’s primary date. Instead he will release a statement signed by representatives from the four early states confirming their shared agreement to move their primary and caucus dates together to remain first and punish rule-breaking states.
“Rules are rules and we’re just laying down a marker and we’re going to fight for our first status in 2016 and 2020,” a South Carolina GOP official said. “We’re going to fight the RNC for the loss of delegates.”
The Politico.com update also said that by early Wednesday evening, it was less certain that Florida would move into January, as RNC officials pressured Florida Republicans to go no earlier than Feb. 21. RNC rules dictate that any state other than the authorized four that hold nominating contests before March 6 will lose half their delegates at the party’s national convention next summer.
Are Florida Republicans looking for a political knockout of South Carolina?
Leaders in the Sunshine State will decide Friday whether to move their Republican presidential primary to Jan. 31, beating South Carolina to the punch by taking the coveted first-in-the-South status.
Here's what's at stake as the two states square off:
South Carolina's No. 1 primary bragging right.
The state has correctly selected the Republican Party's nominee for president in every contest since 1980.
Why Florida wants to make a move?
To hold a primary in Florida at a later date, when the party's nominee is a foregone conclusion, doesn't make sense, said Brian Hughes, spokesman for the Florida GOP. Plus, South Carolina is a solid red state. Florida is a swing state where candidates need to test their ability to win the White House.
What is S.C. doing next?
S.C. Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly will announce today a date for the GOP primary contest. Saturday is the deadline for states to give a date to the Republican National Committee.
Why campaign first in S.C.?
The state's racial mix -- 27 percent black and 66 percent white -- provides a bellwether for the candidates. South Carolina's small geographic size keeps the costs to compete relatively low, for media buys and campaign travel.
Why S.C. Republicans want it here.
"The world's eyes will watch our state and, in addition to generating millions in positive economic impact, the primary shines a positive light on South Carolina," Connelly said.
Some key Florida Republicans said they don't want to steal South Carolina's first-in-the-South status. They just want an earlier date. But such a big state's primary bumping up too close to South Carolina's could diminish the state's influence.
What are the rules?
The RNC won't allow any states other than South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada to hold a primary earlier than March 6. If they do, the state risks losing half of its delegates. Delegates will meet at a convention next year to officially select the party's presidential candidate.
When are all the primaries held?
The primaries historically stretch from January through the summer. The general election that will pit the Republican candidate against President Barack Obama will be in November 2012.