Florida Republican leaders officially set the state's presidential primary for Jan. 31, 2012, challenging the preeminence of the traditional early-voting primary states and ensuring that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada will move up their dates in order to vote ahead of Florida as they have in the past.
Under rules set last year by the Republican National Committee, any state attempting to leapfrog the early four by setting its primary date before March 6 would lose half of its delegates. By prioritizing the state's influence on the nominating process over its delegate count, Florida Republicans will now lose half of 99 delegates to next year's convention, which will be held in Tampa.
Reaction from the traditional early states was highly negative as expected.
States have until the end of Saturday to inform the RNC of the date they've chosen for their nominating contests--though that midnight deadline, like other RNC rules, appears flexible. Now that Florida has formally jumped into late January, the four early states are scrambling to set an agreeable schedule for their contests.
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