A panel of Florida legislators bucked national Republican Party rules Friday and approved a motion to hold the state's presidential primary on January 31.
The move, crafted to ensure that Florida goes fifth in the nominating process, is certain to scramble the presidential primary calendar and push the first contest of the GOP nomination fight into the early days of January.
Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – the only four states allowed to vote before March 6 under Republican National Committee rules – have collectively vowed to move the dates of their caucuses and primaries ahead of Florida to protect their early voting status.
If those first four states move to the front of line as expected, the campaign for the GOP nomination will officially begin a full month earlier than expected, leaving candidates and potential candidates like Sarah Palin and Chris Christie even less time to make their cases to voters.
Already, in response to Florida's move, New Hampshire has moved up the date by which presidential candidates must file an intent to compete. That deadline is now October 28, meaning potential candidates such as Christie and Palin have less than a month to decide whether to compete in the Granite State primary.FULL STORY