ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Florida’s presidential primary will be Jan. 31, 2012.
By a 7-2 vote on Friday, the Florida Presidential Primary Date Selection Committee set the date of the state’s presidential preference primary for Jan. 31 — a move that is sure to scramble the rest of the calendar, pushing several other states to hold their nominating contests even earlier than planned.
The condemnations from Republican officials in some of the the so-called “carve-out” states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — were swift.
“The arrogance shown by Florida’s elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising. Equally troubling is to see this petulant behavior rewarded with our national convention,” Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement. “The consequences of Florida’s intransigence must be swift and severe, including the refusal by the RNC to credential or seat any member of Florida’s presidential primary date commission at the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa.”
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly called Florida’s decision “hugely disappointing.”
“Rogue states have once again dictated the Presidential nominating calendar,” Connelly said.
The Sunshine State’s move does not come without consequences. Any non-carve-out state that chooses to hold its nominating contest before Mar. 6 faces the possibility of losing half its delegates at the Republican National Convention next summer, according to party rules.
In Nevada, GOP Chair Amy Tarkanian pledged to move Nevada’s “first in the West” caucuses up along with the rest of the early states. Tarkanian noted that under Nevada party rules, her state’s caucuses must be held four days after the New Hampshire primary.
“Florida’s decision to move its primary is disappointing and, frankly, disrespectful of the other early primary states and the process as a whole,” she said.
Already on Friday, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced he was pushing up the date when presidential candidates must file to be on the ballot in the Granite State from Nov. 18 to Oct. 28.
And in a statement Gardner added this warning: ”We cannot rule out the possibility of conducting the primary before the end of this year.”
In an appearance on ABC’s “Top Line” on Thursday South Carolina’s Connelly lamented the fact that if the primary season kicks off in early January, the presidential candidates would be “campaigning the snow in the dead of winter” and during “Christmastime.”
“I think that’s a shame,” Connelly said, adding: ”I think it hurts the voters. We get once less month to really vet out and talk to the candidates and get to know them.”
Given’s Florida’s decision on Friday, here is one possible sceanrio for what the nominating calendar could look like:
Jan. 9 or 10 — Iowa
Jan. 17 — New Hampshire
Jan. 21 — Nevada
Jan. 28 — South Carolina
Jan. 31 — Florida
Feb. 7 — Missouri
Feb. 28 — Arizona, Michigan
Mar. 6 — Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Idaho and Wyoming caucuses