WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The South Carolina Republican Party will announce Thursday it is moving its primary to January 19, in an effort to preserve its status as the first southern state to vote in the 2008 GOP presidential nominating contest, party insiders told CNN.
South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson will reveal the new primary date at a late morning news conference in Concord, New Hampshire, nearly 1,000 miles north of South Carolina's capital, Columbia.
The location highlights the two states' traditional status as the first two states to hold presidential primaries. Several New Hampshire political types are expected to attend the news briefing.
It is not known if New Hampshire will announce its primary date, but the South Carolina Republican Party's decision to move to January 19 means New Hampshire's primary will move from its scheduled January 22 date to sometime earlier in the month.
The South Carolina Republican primary was originally scheduled for February 2. The South Carolina Democratic Party is scheduled to hold its primary on January 29, but there is a chance there will be an effort to join Republicans 10 days earlier to help save the state money.
Dawson has been very vocal about preserving his state party's first-in-the-South position, which had been jeopardized by Florida's decision to move its primary to January 29. Iowa, which is the first state to hold a nominating contest, has not yet announced a date for its caucuses and likely will not do so until New Hampshire picks a date.
South Carolina and Florida will be in violation of Republican National Committee rules that require them to wait until February 5 to hold nominating contests, but that has not deterred party leaders in both states from disregarding them.
The early voting contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida could set the stage for a final showdown on February 5, which has been dubbed "Super-Duper Tuesday" when as many as 20-plus states hold primaries and nominees emerge in both parties. E-mail to a friend
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