Republican presidential candidates (L-R): Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Jon Huntsman stand on stage before the start of the Reagan Centennial GOP presidential primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) (© Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)

Arizona sets off more 2012 primary scheduling chaos

Arizona picks South Carolina's date, Florida threatens to move again


Alex Pareene
September 14, 2011 2:30AM (UTC)

Arizona, determined to find a way to annoy everyone in America regardless of political orientation, is now screwing with the Republican Party's primary schedule, which is already a complete mess. Arizona is now going to hold their primary elections on February 28. That's the day South Carolina is supposed to have their primary.

The RNC has said states that aren't Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina can't hold their primaries or caucuses before March 6. States that violate that rule will have lose half their delegates. (Supposedly. In reality lots of people will call on the RNC to seat all delegates anyway and there will be some sort of "compromise" that involves caving to the renegade states.)

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With Arizona flouting the rules, South Carolina will now reschedule their primary. But they can't have it before Iowa or New Hampshire.

With Arizona encroaching on South Carolina, Florida sees no reason to wait until March.

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon says he's willing to break party rules to preserve Florida's status as an influential early presidential battleground.

"I think it's more important that Florida be early in that national conversation about who our next president is than that we make political parties happy," Cannon said Monday night after attending a presidential debate here.

Florida is determined to go fifth, basically.

This could push the one or more of the first four nominating contests into January. Or maybe even December of 2011. All dates are supposed to be decided by the beginning of October.


Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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