August 10, 2007
The Republican Party in South Carolina has decided to hold its 2008 presidential primary on January 19 next year, as its chairman, Katon Dawson, formally notified the secretary of state of New Hampshire, which is the traditional first primary state. Dawson boasted that in his state and New Hampshire, politics is about much more than 30-second sound bites, because the candidates for president are obliged to seek votes via one-on-one contacts with prospective voters. Presumably, that means a higher level of political discourse -- for that state, not necessarily the others. Whatever the rationale, this will no doubt spur a rush by other states to keep up or schedule theirs even earlier, leaving more and more "dead time" after the nominations are effectively decided but before the fall campaign begins. Or perhaps, the "fall" campaigns will start in August or July from now on Ugh. See Washington Post and the SC GOP Web site.
As weight-loss guru Susan Powter used to say, "Stop the insanity!" On the other hand, perhaps this drastic move will force leaders of the two major parties to consider reforming the way their respective nominations are carried out, with each state doing as it pleases.
In terms of "being first," South Carolina's main historical claim to fame was in taking the lead when Southern states seceded from the Union in 1861. Not a good precedent.