New Hamphire Moves Up Filing Dates As Early States React To Florida Move

New Hampshire has moved up the filing dates for its presidential primary as leaders in the four traditional early states react to Florida’s decision to move its primary to Jan. 31.

Friday’s move out of Florida had been anticipated by those in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, with top Republicans in the states indicating they were preparing for the decision.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner released a statement Friday detailing the state’s filing period as Oct. 17 to Oct. 28. Gardner, who has been a fierce protector of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary, said he was not sure when the primary date would be, but that the state needed to prepare for the possibility of a 2011 primary.

“Because we cannot rule out the possibility of conducting the primary before the end of this year, we are, regrettably, as we were four years ago, forced to move the candidates filing period to October,” Gardner said in the statement posted on his office’s website.

Iowa Republican Chairman Matt Strawn told the Des Moines Register’s political blog Friday that he expects Florida to be penalized at next August’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Strawn said he plans to move his state’s caucuses to earlier in January, depending on decisions in other states.

Strawn did say that one possibility -- that of caucuses during Christmastime -- has not come up in discussions about new dates.

“December has not come up once,” he told the Register's political blog.

South Carolina Republican Chairman Chad Connelly released a statement Friday saying that Florida has gone “rogue,” and asked the RNC to punish Florida and other states who move up their primaries. Connelly did not specify a South Carolina primary date he would aim for now that Florida’s move has been made, but on Thursday said he was prepared to make the primary earlier.

During a press conference Thursday, Connelly said he was also ready to have South Carolina’s delegate count cut if the RNC decides the state violated primary rules by moving the primary earlier than the Feb. 28 date.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday that Nevada Republican Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian was planning to move up the scheduled Feb. 17 caucuses if Florida decided to move up its primary.

New Hampshire Republicans told Exeter Patch on Thursday that they were disappointed with Florida’s plan.

"Florida may dilute the value of their primary, but we certainly won’t allow their actions to minimize the New Hampshire Primary," New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien told Patch.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) told Patch on Thursday that he is confident in Gardner’s ability to keep the Granite State’s status intact. Sununu, a former state Republican chairman and White House chief of staff, noted that Gardner has had to move the state’s primary up in past years as well.

"Iowa picks corn, Florida picks oranges, and New Hampshire picks presidents," Sununu told Patch Thursday after attending a Mitt Romney rally.

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