Florida may date, but it will not precede South Carolina's primary, S.C. GOP Chad Connelly vowed Thursday.
At a press conference on the north steps of the S.C. State House, Connelly -- flanked by several other state GOP leaders -- said the party will wait until Florida announces its primary date before it sets its own.
Florida may likely push its primary up to Jan. 31 from its original March primary date. South Carolina -- assured last year in a vote by the Republican National Committee that it could hold the first contest in the South -- was set to hold a primary Feb. 28.
By changing the dates, both states could stand to lose half their delegates under party rules when the GOP holds its nominating convention next year in Tampa. But Connelly and others said they were willing to make that sacrifice to uphold the integrity of the primary schedule.
Under RNC rules approved in August 2010, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada were guaranteed the first four nomination contests.
Connelly said it was important that the state retain its "first in the South" status.
In similar events in the three other early primary states, other state GOP leaders condemned any efforts by other states to violate the primary schedule.
"Our four states are committed to protecting the integrity of the 2012 nominating process and we refuse to let rogue states dictate the calendar," Connelly said. "Elections held just after New Year hurt voters and candidates by short circuiting the nominating process. Republicans deserve the chance to get to know every candidate. We must choose the right person to defeat Barack Obama."