Arizona governor wants to bypass major parties to move state’s primary on day of South Carolina’s
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has made her decision regarding the 2012 calendar, and has decided to move forward with a date outside of the window established by the Republican and Democratic national committees, which has the potential of forcing the other early states forward.
“It has always been a priority of mine to ensure that Arizona and its voters play an influential role in the nomination process, and that Southwestern issues were addressed by the candidates in a meaningful fashion,” Brewer said Tuesday upon signing a proclamation establishing Feb. 28 — the same day as the South Carolina primary — as the date of her state’s election.
Although Arizona had been earlier threatening to move into January 2012 and days ahead of the Iowa caucuses, the Republican National Committee made concessions in the form of a potential GOP presidential debate that squelched the move. The promised debate, Brewer said, when combined with the Feb. 28 primary, would give her state the attention she believes it deserves in the nomination process.
“Arizona will be a player in determining our nation’s next president. Over the next 14 months, the candidates would be wise to meet with our voters and become familiar with our issues. Many of these issues — whether illegal immigration, the housing crisis or Medicaid reform — have national implications,” she said.
Brewer’s move, however, may have the opposite effect than she’d hoped. RNC rules now call for the state to lose a portion of its delegates to the national convention for usurping the calendar rules that allow only the four lead-off states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to hold contests ahead of March 6. In addition, no specific date has been scheduled for the debate that was promised to the state, which could also slip away if Brewer continues to brush aside calendar rules.
The move by Arizona directly impacts South Carolina, which could move a few days ahead and still follow the Nevada caucuses. However, Florida, which has voiced its intent to be the fifth lead-off state in 2012, remains a wild card. It is likely that Florida might leap-frog Arizona, forcing an even greater jump by South Carolina and creating a domino effect within the calendar that could push the Iowa contests into January.
In Iowa the burden of deciding whether or not to move forward is mostly in the hands of the Republican State Central Committee, since there is no competitive Democratic primary on the horizon. As in years previous, there is little doubt that Hawkeye State officials will work closely with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Bardner, who has been granted extreme flexibility in setting his state’s first-in-the-nation primary.