COLUMBIA, S.C. The Republican National Committee on Friday made its penalties stick against South Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida and Michigan for holding primaries earlier than rules allowed.
RNC credentials committee member and South Carolina state Rep. Alan Clemmons said that those states all lost half their delegates by holding primaries too early. That cut the size of delegations and influence those states have in picking the GOP nominee.
Democrats sanctioned Michigan and Florida for holding primaries too early. But the Democratic National Committee relented Sunday and restored those states' full delegate voting rights. "I think Republicans are more accustomed to following the rules," Clemmons quipped.
South Carolina Republicans don't mind losing the delegates. State GOP Chairman Katon Dawson said he was more than willing to give up delegate counts to keep the Palmetto State's status as the nation's first primary in the South.
After Iowa's caucuses, New Hampshire and South Carolina have followed with primaries for years.
"We understand the penalties here," Dawson said in a phone interview from the convention hall, where he expects the sanctions to leave the state with some of the worst seats in the house. "We're used to sitting in the cheap seats. We've got binoculars."
The Republican National Committee is expected to approve a 2012 presidential primary scheduling Monday that formally puts New Hampshire and South Carolina at the top of the primary list.
"We consider that a coup," Clemmons said.
"It couldn't have worked out any better for us," Dawson said. "We're very pleased that South Carolina's role in presidential politics is secured one more time."