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Iowa Caucus: State Sets Early Voting Date

THOMAS BEAUMONT   10/17/11 10:29 PM ET  AP

WASHINGTON -- Iowa Republicans are holding their state's presidential nominating caucuses on Jan. 3, even though New Hampshire is threatening to move its traditional first-in-the-nation primary into December.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn says voters and candidates need the certainty of a firm date.

Florida's decision last month to move its primary to Jan. 31 set off a chain reaction by early-voting states to preserve their leadoff status.

New Hampshire's chief election official says Nevada's decision this month to hold caucuses Jan. 14 would crowd the primary, and has threatened to hold his before the holidays.

Strawn admits the Iowa GOP board's vote Monday puts his state at risk of falling behind New Hampshire. But he points to 2008 when Iowa went Jan. 3, followed by New Hampshire Jan. 8.

A New Hampshire GOP official says Iowa's move would have no bearing on the primary date, but said Nevada could avoid a December primary by moving its caucuses back three days.

"Nevada could really help solve this problem," said New Hampshire Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey. "If they were to move 72 hours later – a small change – this problem would go away, and I remain hopeful they might do so."

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Filed by Benjamin Hart  |