ABC News’ Karen Travers Reports: South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson made the first move on the political primary chess board this morning by announcing that the South Carolina Republican primary will be held on January 19, 2008, setting in motion a chain reaction that will bump up the dates of the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses.
To preserve their status as "First in the Nation" and "First in the South," the South Carolina GOP and New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner have gotten together and formed an alliance not unlike one on "Survivor."
"We are here to stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends in New Hampshire to reaffirm the important role that both of our states play in presidential politics," Dawson said at the State House in Concord, NH.
The South Carolina Republican primary was originally scheduled for Feb. 2 but after Florida moved its primary to Jan. 29, Palmetto State GOP-ers wanted to leapfrog Florida to keep their premiere status. The South Carolina Democratic primary, however, will remain on Jan. 29.
It appears that Iowa Democratic and Republican leaders will hold off on any announcement until New Hampshire sets its primary date.
And it looks like the New Hampshire primary will be somewhere between January 8 and January 12, which leaves Iowa with three options:
Make the unprecedented move to a December 2007 caucus date — not likely the most desirable option for either party.
Select Monday Jan. 7, which doesn’t leave much time after the holidays to pump up participation.
Give up first-in-the-nation status and go second on Jan. 14 — something Gov. Culver seemed to rule out in comments yesterday.
Gov. Culver told Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson, "Iowa will go first. That is the bottom line."
New Hampshire GOP chair Fergus Cullen told ABC News that the coordination between the states shows respect for the traditional roles New Hampshire and South Carolina have played in the early primary season. Cullen said it also provides an opportunity to keep the early states’ primary dates in 2008 and avoid moving the calendar ahead to 2007.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner is not expected to make any announcements today about the date of his state’s primary –- he is going to keep everyone waiting until the fall.