Arizona Sets February 28 Primary Date, Could Upset Voting Calendar
After already saying that she wouldn't already throw a wrench into next year's primary schedule Arizona Governor Jan Brewer announced Monday that her state's primary will remain--as scheduled--on Feb. 28.
She had contemplated moving the primary into January in the hope of giving her state greater visibility in the primary process but also forcing the hands of the other states (i.e. Iowa and New Hampshire) that are at the front of the line to hold their elections even earlier.
"Today I signed a proclamation establishing February 28 as the date of Arizona's 2012 Presidential Preference Election," Brewer said in a statement released from her Phoenix office. "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 are addressed by the candidates in a meaningful fashion.
Arizona law requires 120 day notice for the establishment of a primary date. As that window closed for a January election, Brewer announced the party-backed debate to take place in Arizona. No date has been announced. Brewer has yet to announce an endorsement in the presidential race and recently said she would until after the Arizona debate to make up her mind.
"Arizona voters will be hearing from the presidential candidates in the months ahead. Now, it is the obligation of voters to make certain that they are educated on the issues when it comes time to make their voices heard."
But Brewer's call for their voices to be heard may upset the Republican calendar and puts Arizona out of compliance with RNC rules. By holding it's primary in February Arizona violates the RNC-approved calendar which allows only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to vote before March.Arizona will lose half it's delegates to the National Convention for failing to comply with RNC rules.
The decision to vote in February may also prompt Florida to set an even earlier primary date of it's own. Under Florida law, a special commission will convene in the next few weeks to select Florida's 2012 primary date. Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) officials have long said they want the Sunshine State's GOP primary to be fifth on the nominating calendar after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
But if Arizona stays on February 28, Florida will have to leapfrog Arizona to achieve its goal of being the fifth state to vote. That would in turn force the four leadoff states to move earlier in the year.Republican officials in Iowa and New Hampshire have repeatedly said their states will hold contests in January or even December if that is what it takes to remain the first caucus and primary.
RPOF officials had hoped to avoid moving to February by squeezing in to March right before Super Tuesday on the 6th.A spokesman for Brewer acknowledges Arizona could face RNC sanctions. "The RNC indicated that a Feb. 28 primary would result in sanctions. On balance, the Governor thought it was still worthwhile to keep Arizona's primary in advance of Super Tuesday."
Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron contributed to this report.