It's official: The Iowa Caucuses will be Tuesday, January 3, 2012, at 7pm.--
There are several things that come out of this move.
- This obviously keeps the spotlight on the discussion between New Hampshire and Nevada. [Barbs are already being exchanged between media folks in the Granite and Silver states.] The Nevada Republican Party has set the date for caucuses for January 14 and that gives New Hampshire a small window of time in which to work. Saturday, January 7 -- one week before Nevada and just four days after the Iowa caucuses -- has already been nixed by New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner because of the conflict it has with the Jewish sabbath. That would leave Gardner with a couple of choices if the desire is to keep the primary in 2012. He could go back on his word on either the Saturday conflict or the fact that Nevada is "similar contest" or he could opt for a Friday, January 6 primary -- three days after Iowa. The alternative is a primary in December some time.
- Romney is now feeling pressure from New Hampshire supporters to boycott Nevada. As Mark Halperin said, he needs both. That's a tough one.
- Nevada Republicans are also feeling the heat to move; something that could come up at the Nevada Republican Party State Central Committee meeting this weekend (October 22). Jon Ralston just tweeted that he didn't get a sense of "steely resolve" from NVGOP chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian regarding the current caucus date.
- This eliminates the Iowa holding out until New Hampshire decides scenario FHQ discussed this morning. But it also looks like from Chairman Strawn's statement that the Iowa Republican Party is standing alongside New Hampshire, taking the olive branch offered last week when Gardner went after Nevada because of its date and not Iowa for tentatively taking the first Tuesday in January.1 That adds to the heat Nevada will face.
1 The full statement from Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn:
Des Moines – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn tonight made the following statement after the Party’s State Central Committee approved a motion to hold Iowa’s First in the Nation Precinct Caucuses on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. (Iowa time).
“On behalf of over 600,000 Iowa Republicans, I’m excited to announce the first step Iowans will have to replace Barack Obama and his failed presidency will be next January 3 at our First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses,” said Strawn. “A January 3 date provides certainty to the voters, to our presidential candidates, and to the thousands of statewide volunteers who make the Caucus process a reflection of the very best of our representative democracy.”
Iowa’s precinct caucuses, which occur at over 1,700 precinct locations across the Hawkeye state, are best-known for the presidential preference poll that occurs along with traditional party organizing activities such as the election of precinct committeemen and platform discussions.
Strawn noted this process is best served with Iowa and New Hampshire continuing in lead-off roles as the First in the Nation Caucus and First in the Nation Primary, respectively. He said, “At a time when more and more Americans feel disconnected from our national leaders, we need places like Iowa and New Hampshire that require those who seek to lead us, actually meet us, look us in the eye and listen to our hopes and concerns for our families and our Nation.”
Strawn also expressed solidarity with his counterparts in New Hampshire, “I will do everything in my power on the RNC to hold Florida accountable for creating this mess, but the culpability for creating a compressed January calendar does not end there. The actions of early state newcomer Nevada have also exacerbated this problem and unnecessarily crowded the January calendar. Time remains for Nevada to respect the process, honor tradition and rectify the problem in a way that will restore order to the nomination calendar.