GOP Starting Line Inches Toward New Year's Day

WASHINGTON (AP) - A primary, in January? That's what some states are trying to do again to increase their influence.

A Florida commission is expected to announce Friday that its presidential primary will be held Jan. 31. That's what Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon says, though GOP officials from other states are trying to get Florida to reconsider.

The move by Florida could spark a stampede by Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Those states have been granted special status by both political parties to hold the first nominating contests.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly says, "The bottom line is, if Florida moves, I'm moving." Connelly says, "we're going to be the first in the South presidential preference primary, no matter what it takes."

But Iowa GOP chairman Matthew Strawn says Florida's move only increases the importance of his state and the other early states. Strawn says, "A compressed caucus and primary calendar makes doing well in the four kickoff states a necessity for a candidate to secure the Republican nomination."