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.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.