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RNC panel approves change to keep S.C.’s presidential primary first in the South

South Carolina Republicans successfully lobbied their national party's rules committee to endorse a plan that would keep South Carolina's GOP presidential primary as the first in the South.

The change would allow the four states that traditionally hold early primaries or caucuses -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada--to move their voting up to one month before other states states without risking the loss of half their national convention delegates.

The Republican National Committee’s rules committee, which consists of one representative from each state, made the decision Thursday at its meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to a release from the South Carolina GOP.

The rule must be approved at the Republican National Convention in August before it takes effect.

York County GOP Chairman Glenn McCall, who represents South Carolina on the Republican National Committee, played an instrumental role in lobbying the rules committee toward the decision, but he did it without arguing himself, he said Friday.

“It’s always the early states that are out fighting...to maintain our position,” he said.

His strategy was to ask representatives of non-early states instead to argue for the change. Several stepped forward, he said.

Protecting the four states’ early voting is important to the party, because those states act as testing grounds for candidates to get out their messages and see if they resonate, McCall said.

“We're small enough that candidates with no name (recognition) and limited funds can come in and campaign and not have to worry about going to a big state like Florida,” he said.

The committee is also considering a rule change to increase penalties against other states moving their primaries up.

The rule change will prevent the “unintended consequences” that happened when Florida moved its primary ahead of traditional early states, forcing the four states wanting to maintain their early status to move ahead and take the penalty of losing half their delegates to the national convention, state GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said.

Party members were “dismayed” at Florida’s move, Connelly said, adding that the decision “created chaos in the (primary) schedule.”

There has been talk of increasing the penalty to 60 or 70 percent, McCall said.

Connelly and McCall said the step is an important first hurdle to clear, and it’s hard to say whether supporters of the rule will face pushback at the convention.

“Whether or not we'll face a lot of opposition, it's hard to say,” Connelly said. “I think all the right people are lining up with us.”

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