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Iowa Tentatively Moves Up GOP Caucuses

Iowa Republicans have tentatively decided to move up the state's leadoff presidential caucuses to Jan. 3 and Democrats will follow suit, scrambling the U.S. nominating season, party leaders said Friday.

Drew Ivers, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, said that panel held a telephone conference late Thursday to map out plans for the caucus calendar.

Iowa Republican Chairman Matt Strawn plans to spend the weekend talking with his counterparts in New Hampshire to coordinate the date of the lead-off caucuses in Iowa and the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire.

Strawn said there was a strong consensus on the governing board that the caucuses needed be held in January and not move into the holiday season.

Iowa is changing its date after Nevada decided to hold its caucuses in mid-January.

Strawn declined to confirm specifically that Jan. 3 was the date settled on, though Ivers made it clear that was the decision.

Iowa Democratic Chair Sue Dvorsky said Democrats "absolutely" would hold their caucuses on the same day, even though they don't have a nomination contest.

Strawn said it is crucial that Iowa and New Hampshire coordinate closely in setting their dates. Iowa holds the first caucus, while New Hampshire has the first primary.

Typically, the New Hampshire primary is held eight days after the Iowa caucuses, but the rush from other states to move to the beginning of the process has condensed that.

"The broad direction I was given by my executive committee was to do everything in my power to hold the caucuses in January, but also continuing to work with our friends in New Hampshire," said Strawn. "Every four years Iowa and New Hampshire are attacked by other states that are very jealous of the opportunity we have to start the presidential nominating process."