S.C. Democrats to ask for earlier primary

COLUMBIA -- The date of January's S.C. Democratic presidential primary could become clearer this week.

S.C. Democratic chairwoman Carol Khare Fowler will ask the state party's executive committee Tuesday for permission to request a new date from the Democratic National Committee.

The primary now is set for Jan. 29. Fowler wants to move the primary to Jan. 22.

The executive committee is made up of county party leaders from around the state. They will gather at party headquarters in Columbia.

"We're going to discuss with them our options, and we're hopeful they are agreeable to doing it," S.C. party executive director Joe Werner said.

If the executive committee endorses a new date, Fowler will ask the national party's Rules and Bylaws Committee for permission to move the state's Democratic primary.

There is a looming deadline.

State law requires the parties give the State Election Commission 90 days notice of their primary dates. That means if Fowler wants to move the Democratic primary to Jan. 19 the day the S.C. GOP will hold its primary she must tell the Election Commission by Oct. 22.

The Democratic National Committee awarded South Carolina an early primary date, Jan. 29. At the time, that date would have made South Carolina the fourth state to vote on a nominee for president.

But Florida lawmakers moved their state's primaries to Jan. 29, threatening to upstage S.C. Democrats and the S.C. Republican Party set its primary for Jan. 19. Michigan since also has jumped into the scheduling fray, setting its primaries for Jan. 15.

Fowler has said she worries that holding the Democratic primary 10 days after S.C. Republicans vote would diminish turnout for the Democratic contest.