Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry (left) and Mitt Romney prepare to shake hands with other candidates at the end of a debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express at the Florida fairgrounds on Sept. 12 in Tampa.
The state of Florida will hold its presidential primary on Jan. 31, throwing the GOP nominating schedule into disarray and likely prompting other states to move their primaries earlier in the year.
First-in-the-nation caucus state Iowa and first-in-the-nation primary state New Hampshire have pledged to move their elections to maintain their status as key early metrics of a presidential aspirant’s support. Nevada and South Carolina are also likely to move their election dates. Those four states are the only ones allowed to have early primaries under Republican National Committee rules. Other states are prohibited from holding primaries or caucuses before March 6 and will be penalized delegates if they do.
Florida is poised to lose half its delegates as a result of breaking party rules.
State Democrats slammed the decision.
“Once again, Republicans in Florida have shown a total disregard for bipartisanship and following the rules of the road. Today’s decision is a slap in the face to their own party and the bipartisan rules agreed upon over a year ago to ensure an orderly primary process,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said in a statement.
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.