Florida Holds Fast To January 31 Primary Date

Source: Peter Hamby / CNN

Washington – A panel of Florida legislators bucked national Republican Party rules Friday and approved a motion to hold the state’s presidential primary on Jan. 31 of next year.

The move, crafted to ensure that Florida goes fifth in the nominating process, is certain to scramble the presidential primary calendar and push the first contest of the GOP nomination fight into the early days of January.

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – the only four states allowed to vote before March 6 under Republican National Committee rules – have collectively vowed to move the dates of their caucuses and primaries ahead of Florida to protect their early voting status.

If those first four states move to the front of line as expected, the campaign for the GOP nomination will officially begin a full month earlier than expected, leaving candidates and potential candidates like Sarah Palin and Chris Christie even less time to make their cases to voters.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn vowed to remain first in the process and released a harshly worded statement calling on the RNC to punish Florida’s delegation to next August’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.

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