Updated at 9:24 p.m.
Even as she passed on an opportunity earlier this month to move Arizona's presidential primary up to the end of January, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday said the state would hold its GOP primary on Feb. 28 2012, a date that would make it among the earliest on the campaign calendar and would put the state in violation of national party rules.
In a statement, the governor said the move would ensure Arizona would "be a player" during the GOP primary.
"Over the next 14 months, the candidates would be wise to meet with our voters and become familiar with our issues," said Brewer. "Many of these issues - whether illegal immigration, the housing crisis or Medicaid reform - have national implications."
The decision comes 10 days after Brewer, who had been mulling a move all the way up to Jan. 31, announced the state had preliminarily been awarded a Republican presidential debate. Even so, Brewer said at the time that she was keeping her options open.
"Just as important as what I'm announcing today is what I'm not announcing: a formal date for Arizona's Presidential Preference Election," she said on Sept. 2.
Holding the GOP contest on Feb. 28 would put Arizona in violation of the party's rules, which say that only four states - Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada - can hold their primaries before March 6.
"The party rules are clear; states in violation will lose 50 percent of their delegates. By going before the March deadline, a state will lose 50 percent of its delegates to the national convention," said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.
Arizona's decision could place added pressure on two other states, Florida and Michigan, which are also trying to expedite their primaries. Both states have to make a decision by Oct. 1.
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