SCGOP Sets Primary Date for Jan. 21
The January date will help the party maintain the state's "First in South" status.
S.C. Republican officials announced on Monday that the state will hold the presidential primary on Jan. 21.
The announcement — made by state party chairman Chad Connelly at party headquarters, located at 1913 Marion St., in Columbia — will keep the state's "First in South" status.
Florida's announced last week plans to move its March primary to Jan. 31. Other states also have planned to move up their primary dates, which has thrown the entire process into turmoil.
Connelly said last week that the state party would not let "rogue" Florida usurp South Carolina's right to hold the first primary in the South.
"Last Friday, a nine-person committee brought chaos to the 2012 nomination calendar," S.C. GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said at the press conference Monday. "Today, South Carolina restores order."
S.C. Republicans had originally planned to hold their primary on Feb. 28, which was approved by the Republican National Committee last year.
"We lost a month," Connelly said. "All of you South Carolina voters lost a month thanks to Florida."
Florida is facing penalties from the Republican National Committee for breaking the rules and moving their primary date. South Carolina could also lose up to half of its delegates for moving the primary to an earlier date, Connelly said.
"But I really think that a state (Florida) who violates the calendar ought to loose all their delegates," he said. "Furthermore, the states who were pushed into January to keep their spot should not be penalized at all."
Connelly expressed concern about South Carolina voters not having enough time to get to know the candidates and about a shortened time to fundraise for the primary.
"We lose a month of people getting to know these candidates and really connecting with them so we make the right selection to beat Obama," Connelly said.
But the Jan. 21 date gives voters the maximum amount of time possible in this situation to get to know the candidates, Connelly said.
Connelly also announced that the South Carolina Republican Party, along with Fox News, will host a "First in the South" Republican debate in the days leading up to the primary. A date has not been set yet.