UPDATE: February S.C. GOP Primary Salvaged?
State party Chair Chad Connelly: Florida jockeying won't work.
Update: Politico is reporting that S.C. GOP Chair Chad Connelly will not be announcing the S.C. Primary date Thursday, as he had planned. Instead, he is expected to issue a statement that the state will work with the other early primary states to perserve South Carolina's status as First in the South.
Politico also notes that Florida is getting pressure to move no earlier than Feb. 21.
This story is also updated to note that the S.C. State Election Commission has expected a primary date by Oct. 1, but doesn't need a date from the state's Republican Party until Dec. 1.
Original Reporting: The GOP presidential primary in South Carolina will likely be pushed into January after news on Wednesday that Florida is expected to move its primary to Jan. 31.
South Carolina's Election Commission says it expects a schedule by Oct. 1, but won't need a date until Dec. 1, and the state Republican party will hold a press conference Thursday to announce the date.
"We're going to have the First in the South presidential preference primary," state party Chair Chad Connelly told Patch on Wednesday.
Unlike other state party leaders in the country, he has authority to move the primary at-will, and Connelly said he'll protect the Palmetto State's status on the calendar.
The S.C. primary's original date, Feb. 28, was expected to move after the announcment earlier this month that Arizona wanted to hold its contest on the same day.
Connelly said at the time that he was trying to work with Florida to avoid a fight over the primary schedule. It appeared on Wednesday that the talks fell through.
"These other states are moving their primaries because they say they want to be relevant," Connelly told Patch. "The crowding of the calendar only makes them less relevant."
Update: New Hampshire similarly dismissive of Florida's expected shift to Jan. 31, according to Exeter Patch editor Jason Claffey.
Even Romney weighed in, during a brief press conference following his town hall meeting, saying he respects the existing process, and plans to continue focusing on New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.
"They'll be first," he said. "This is where I'll be."