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Nevada GOP poised to change caucus date if Florida moves primary

The head of the Nevada Republican Party said Wednesday the GOP would move up its presidential caucuses here if Florida goes ahead with a proposal to hold its primary on Jan. 31.

Now, Nevada Republicans are scheduled to caucus to pick their presidential favorites on Feb. 18 following the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary and before the South Carolina primary.

But Florida officials said Wednesday that a state commission may decide Friday to hold the Republican primary on Jan. 31 to boost the state’s importance in picking the GOP nominee. If that happens, Florida could forfeit half its delegates, and the whole GOP calendar could move up.

“Florida’s decision to move its primary is disappointing and, frankly, disrespectful of the other early primary states and the process as a whole,” GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said in a statement.

Tarkanian said that under Republican National Committee rules, Nevada is supposed to hold its caucuses four days after New Hampshire’s primary for the first 2012 voting in the West.

She did not name a possible new date for Nevada since it would depend on what Florida does and how the other three early states shift schedules, probably picking early January dates.

“No matter what, we will not allow this disruption to interfere with our goal of creating a presidential caucus that will be the pride of the Western states,” Tarkanian said. “This situation gives Nevadans the opportunity to showcase our ability to adapt and establish our state as a major player in national politics.”

The RNC hopes to strike a deal with Florida that would put its primary on Feb. 21, immediately after the four early states, The Washington Post reported.

Party leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire also criticized Florida.

The states have until Saturday to set early voting rules and send them to the RNC. Now, RNC rules say no states can hold early voting before March 6 except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Arizona and Michigan have decided to violate those rules, setting primaries for Feb. 28 but still not jumping ahead of the four early states.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.

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