Arizona Moves Up Primary Date. Let the Chaos Begin.

| Tue Sep. 13, 2011 11:51 AM EDT
Gov. Jan Brewer

The race to hold early Republican presidential primary contests is heating up. The Arizona Republic reports that Gov. Jan Brewer (R) issued a proclamation on Monday declaring that the state will hold its GOP presidential primary on February 28 of next year. Brewer's decision breaks national party rules mandating that only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada can schedule their contests before March 6.

Last month, Kate Sheppard broke down the race to the front of the calendar:

The Iowa caucuses, which traditionally start the presidential primary calendar, are currently scheduled for February 6. The current tentative calendar from the Republican National Committee would put New Hampshire's primary on February 14, Nevada's on February 18, and South Carolina's on February 28. Super Tuesday—the biggest primary day by far—would then fall on March 6. In 2008, 24 states held their primaries on that day.

This year, though, Arizona and Florida are threatening to throw the whole calendar into chaos by to moving their dates forward. Florida has currently penciled in their primary for January 31, though that could change, based on a decision by the state's "Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee." The committee is required to issue its determination by October 1. Arizona is also considering a January 31 primary, though the governor must announce a decision by Friday. If the states do decide to skip ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire, they risk sanctions from the national party for jumping the queue.

As Kate also reported, these sanctions will probably be ignored. Iowa and New Hampshire will just move up their caucus and primary dates. Being number one—the focus of international political and media attention, as well as advertising and campaign money—is just too sweet to give up without a fight.