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Iowa GOP Pushes Caucus to Jan. 3; Focus Turns to N.H.

BY Admin  October 17, 2007 at 3:14 PM EST

Mitt Romney campaigning in Iowa

“With under 80 days to go, this is a huge help to our counties and county chairs to get the ball rolling and start organizing. They have 1,784 precinct caucus meetings to run, thousands of volunteers to recruit and our presidential candidates deserve a set date,” Republican Party of Iowa Executive Director Chuck Laudner said in a statement. “This is a definitive year for Iowa, and it is crucial that RPI, the State Central Committee and our county organizations run a smooth, successful caucus.”

Iowa Republicans wanted to advance the date of their caucus — a meeting of the state’s members of a political party to select a candidate — to fend off states such as Michigan and Florida, which are seeking to challenge their lead status.

Michigan bucked national party rules and scheduled its primary for Jan. 15, a move that led several major Democratic candidates to withdraw from the state’s primary ballot. The Republican presidential candidates, however, are still campaigning in the state.

Florida, meanwhile, moved its primary to Jan. 29 in violation of Democratic National Committee rules — a decision which led the DNC to strip Florida of its delegates for the 2008 convention. Florida state leaders have in turn filed a lawsuit against the DNC over the “disenfranchisement” of the state’s Democratic voters.

Iowa Democrats have traditionally held their precinct caucuses, similar to neighborhood meetings for party members, on the same night as Republicans. But Democratic leaders in Iowa have yet to decide whether to move the date of their party’s caucuses, currently set for Jan. 14, according to Reuters.

Iowa’s move puts new pressure on New Hampshire, which has usually held its caucus meetings about a week after the Iowa gatherings.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told Politico that moving the state’s caucuses up to December is not out of the question.

“December is a possibility,” Gardner told reporter Roger Simon Tuesday. “It is not my preference. But it could become my preference.”