PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday she would not move up the state's presidential primary by nearly a month, avoiding at least for now a high-profile spat in the Republican Party over the schedule of the 2012 White House race.
The Republican governor told The Associated Press, however, that she'll leave open the option of moving the primary earlier than the current date of Feb. 28, just not as early as Jan. 31.
"Sometime after the 31st is still possible," Brewer said in an interview. "I'm going to keep looking at that, to see what fits our best interests."
She also said the Republican National Committee has tentatively agreed to schedule one of the debates among GOP presidential candidates in Arizona. Brewer had indicated Thursday that she might back off the plan to move the primary if the state could host a presidential debate.
"It's a big win for Arizona and a big win for America so that we can have our issues discussed," Brewer said in an interview, citing concerns on border security, Medicaid and education. "Now is the time."
Under state law, which requires any change to be made at least 150 days in advance, Saturday was the deadline to change the primary to Jan. 31.
Brewer's decision was closely watched because it could have created a domino effect in the White House election calendar. Other states may have moved their contests to get ahead of Arizona.
Arizona law lets governors move up the primary date, and Brewer disclosed in late July that she was considering a change to give the state a greater platform to bring attention to issues such as immigration.
Republican National Party rules bar Arizona and other states from moving their primaries and contests before March 6 to avoid clustering of early contests. Even holding the contest on Feb. 28 could lead to the loss of half of Arizona's delegates to the party's national convention. However, it's not clear that the eventual nominee would allow the sanction to be enforced.