CEDAR RAPIDS — The Republican Party of Iowa remains “confident” its precinct caucuses will be Feb. 6, 2012, despite continued talk by other states about jumping ahead in the nominating process.
“Our expectation is that we will be able to hold the caucuses Feb. 6 and retain our first-in-the-nation status,” party spokesman Casey Mills said May 20.
The Republican National Committee voted by a two-thirds majority in August 2010 to set the calendar for primaries and caucuses – with Iowa leading off followed eight days later by the New Hampshire primary. However, Republicans in Michigan, Florida and Arizona are talking about moving up the dates of their contests.
GOP officials from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina recently met in Dallas with representatives of the Florida GOP about that party’s efforts to play a larger role in the nomination process.
Under the current RNC rules, four states are allowed to have a primary or caucuses before the first Tuesday of March. In addition to Iowa, they are New Hampshire Feb. 14, Nevada Feb. 18 and South Carolina on a date to be determined.
That would force Florida to push back its Jan. 31 primary date to at least March 5. However, the Florida Legislature has approved a bill creating a commission to set a primary anytime between the first Tuesday in January and the first Tuesday in March.
Mills said the GOP in the early caucus states are united in seeing that other states comply with the national party’s rules.
“We’ve been in close contact with Chairman (Jack) Kimball in New Hampshire,” he said. “So it would be fair to say there is very close cooperation between the early states to preserve the nomination calendar approved by the RNC.”
In the meantime, the Iowa caucus date is written in pencil.
“If other states choose not to get into compliance, Iowa will retain its status as first-in-the-nation,” Mills said. “So while the date of the caucuses may change, the order won’t.”
According to RNC rules, states that jump ahead of the four early states would lose risk half of their national convention delegates. That makes it less inviting for candidates to spend millions of dollars competing, especially if a candidate is not well-financed.