Reacting to news that Arizona will defy Republican Party rules and hold its primary Feb. 28, the chairman of the S.C. GOP said Tuesday that his party will hold its primary even earlier that month.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday she plans to keep her state’s primary date of Feb. 28, a move that defies rules set by the Republican National Committee. As a result, Arizona will lose half of its delegates to the party’s annual convention, said a GOP spokesperson.
Chad Connelly, chairman of the S.C. GOP, said South Carolina will not share a primary date with Arizona and, instead, will choose a date earlier in February to assure the Palmetto State retains its coveted “first-in-the-South” spot on the national political stage.
“We're going to be first-in-the-South no matter what,” said Connelly, who has sole authority to set the date for the primary. “Rules are rules. I would hope other states would follow them. But if they don’t, we’re prepared to do what we must do.”
Since 1980, S.C. GOP voters correctly have chosen the eventual GOP nominee in every contested primary. That long-standing history, paired with the spot as an early-voting state, means candidates spend more time in South Carolina than they would otherwise, meeting voters and listening to their concerns. “It's a huge deal for South Carolina,” Connelly said. “We’ll protect it.”