Arizona election decision may affect South Carolina primary

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September 15, 2011

By Tyler Millhouse

Columbia, South Carolina: On Monday, September 12, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) confirmed her intentions to conduct the state's 2012 presidential primary on February 28, 2012. The move complies with state law, but violates guidelines set forth by the Republican National Committee. The new date puts Arizona's presidential primary on the same date as South Carolina's, a move the South Carolina GOP considers unacceptable. In an interview with POLITICO, party chair Chad Connelly said the South Carolina primary would be moved up if necessary. He stated, "We’re not going to share our date with anybody...Especially, not with any state that violates the rules."[1]

Although Brewer could have chosen an even earlier date, it was thought that setting the date any earlier would cause South Carolina to shift its primary date. However, Brewer's assessment may prove overly optimistic if South Carolina party officials follow through on their promises. A change to South Carolina's primary date could set off a chain reaction of earlier and earlier presidential primaries.[2][3]

In addition to battles over the primary date, South Carolina may face other problems in administering the presidential primary. Last week, Beaufort County officials sent a letter to the South Carolina Election Commission, questioning a law making the state responsible for presidential primary elections. Prior to 2008, each political party was responsible for conducting its primary. However, a 2007 law gave the state commission control of the process, funded partially by tax dollars and partially by party fundraising. However, local officials contend that the law only applied to the 2008 election cycle, a claim Attorney General Alan Wilson rejects. County officials contend that, while the primary is funded by the state, several significant local expenditures are not reimbursed.[4]

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