Presidential primary order still uncertain

| Monday, September 26, 2011

Republicans in two southern states are working out the details of a plan that could help finalize the order of the presidential primaries and caucuses for the 2012 elections.

The Republican National Committee’s deadline for states to finalize a primary date is Saturday, Oct. 1. With less than a week remaining until the deadline, the order remains up in the air.

State laws in Iowa and New Hampshire require party officials there to hold the first caucus and primary in the nation, respectively. In addition, the national political parties do not want any other states except Nevada and South Carolina to hold primaries before March 6.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is interested in securing his state a prominent date to head to the polls. Normally, voters in the state cast presidential primary ballots well after the first four states, but Florida is one of a growing list of states pushing to move up their nominating contests to attract candidates earlier in the election process.

To help settle the order, officials in South Carolina and Florida are working out details that would assure the Sunshine State the fifth spot in the presidential selection process while allowing the Palmetto State to keep its first-in-the-south status.

Concern about other states moving up their nominating process at the Oct. 1 deadline has spurred the early states to make plans to announce new, earlier dates in the hours leading up to the deadline.

States that hold their primaries before March 6 face a loss in the number of delegates at the party’s presidential convention. However, the deterrent does not seem to be working. Arizona, Michigan and Missouri are among the states pursuing earlier primary dates.

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