The Florida House of Representatives voted to move up the state's presidential primary date to Jan. 29 of next year, a move that might mean the New Hampshire Primary could occur earlier than ever.
The Florida house voted 118-0 this afternoon on legislation that now only needs the signature of Governor Charlie Crist to become law. Crist said this afternoon he will sign it.
This places Florida's presidential primaries for both Democrats and Republicans on the same date that Democrats in South Carolina will hold their primary.
Since 1980 South Carolina has traditionally held the "first-in-the-South" primary and leaders there say they intend to keep it that way.
Unlike Florida, in South Carolina each state party is responsible for setting the date and administering a presidential primary.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson said in an interview today that Florida's move will make him move up his party's primary.
"It is a question of when we will move the primary, not if," Dawson said.
In terms of New Hampshire's date, if South Carolina Democrats move their date just one day ahead of the scheduled Jan. 29 date it would mean that New Hampshire would not schedule its primary on Jan. 22, as the Democratic National Committee wants.
This is because South Carolina would then trigger a New Hampshire law stating that "no similar event" may be held 7 days before or after.
In an interview, New Hampshire State Representative Jim Splaine, a Portsmouth Democrat who authored that state law, said he fully expects New Hampshire's date to be earlier than Jan. 22.
Splaine said he has been urging New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to set the date earlier regardless of what Florida or South Carolina decide to do.