Washington (CNN) – Well, that didn’t take long.
As quickly as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Monday that she was moving the state’s 2012 presidential primary to February 28, the South Carolina Republican Party said on Tuesday that they will leapfrog any state that tries to move ahead of the Palmetto State.
“I am going to wait until such time I can pick the date and secure our spot,” said Chad Connelly, Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “No matter what happens in this drama, we are going to be first in the South and we are going to leap frog anyone who tries to leap frog us.”
February 28 was the same day that South Carolina had planned to hold their primary, meaning if they don't move, they will share the day with Arizona.
Two years ago, the Republican National Committee set rules that dictated when states could hold their primary or caucus. With a desire to be relevant, however most states want their date to be early and stand-alone.
Brewer had hoped to move the primary to January 31, but after a debate was tentatively sanctioned in Arizona, she backed off the original date. Even still, moving the primary to Feb. 28 is violating GOP rules.
“Arizona will be a player in determining our nation’s next president,” stated a release from the governor’s office. “Over the next 14 months, the candidates would be wise to meet with our voters and become familiar with our issues. “
The South Carolina GOP is the sole decider of when the states primary will take place, which allows more freedom in the decision making process. Vaguely threatening states thinking of moving, Connelly said he will use that process when deciding his date.
“To me, and this applies to any state, if was trying to be more relevant and there was chairman who had a latitude to pick the date whenever they wanted to, I would just follow the rules,” Connelly said.
According to the RNC rule book, “No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held.” The rule then goes on to exclude Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Connelly classified this type of argument as “unnecessary drama,” and said that the GOP is not focusing on the right issues when they talk about primary dates.
“If we are talking about calendar dates, it is unnecessary drama,” Connelly said. “To just throw the entire calendar into confusion, takes us off our main message which is beating Obama.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has warned states thinking of moving their primary, stating in August that if a state violates the rules, they will lose half their delegates at that national nomination convention.
All states have until Oct. 1 to settle on a primary date.
– CNN's Peter Hamby and Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.