Arizona Governor May Back Down From Jan. 31 Early Primary Date

ABC News’ Amy Bingham reports:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has three days left to decide if she will move her state’s presidential primary election, as she has indicated she would like to, to Jan. 31, earlier than both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary are currently scheduled.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have said they will push their elections forward to maintain their first-in-the-nation status if Arizona nabs Jan. 31, meaning the 2012 presidential primary season would kick off unprecedentedly early in the first part of January or possibly even late December 2011.

But after months of saying she plans to bump Arizona’s election forward, Brewer may be backing off the Jan. 31 date, which she said would ensure Arizona is a big player in the Republican 2012 campaigns.  Brewer has to announce the primary date 150 days before the election, which giver her until Sept. 2 to declare a Jan. 31 primary.

“She is certainly is considering other dates as well,” said the governor’s spokesman Matthew Benson. “The governor’s priority is to give Arizona voters the biggest platform possible with which to influence the nomination process. That’s the driving factor behind her moving the state’s primary.”

The Arizona constitution sets the state’s presidential preference election for the fourth Tuesday in February, which would make it on Feb. 28, 2012, a date that already violates Republican National Committee rules. The RNC forbids any state besides Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada from having their primary or caucus before March 6.

The governor can decide to move the primary earlier, but would have to get approval from the State Legislature to move it later than Feb. 28.

Benson said Brewer is considering “many options” for ways to bring policies that are important to Arizonans such as illegal immigration and border issues to the forefront of presidential campaigns, including possibly hosting a GOP presidential candidate debate in the Sunshine State.

“A debate certainly would be one way to spotlight those issues and make certain those candidates are coming to Arizona, talking with Arizona voters and grappling with those issues,” Benson said.