Iowa should do whatever it can to avoid moving the date for its presidential caucuses into December.
We agree with state Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn, who during an interview with MSNBC on Thursday said it's better "for the sanity of the process, for our candidates, for the voters" if the caucus and primary calendar for the 2012 presidential election begins in 2012. And after the holidays, might we add.
The decision (in violation of national party rules) by Florida to move its primary up to Jan. 31 set in motion decisions by several other states. South Carolina moved its primary up to Jan. 21 and on Wednesday night Nevada Republicans said their caucuses will be held on Jan. 14.
Iowa and New Hampshire will hold on to their number one and two positions in the nomination process, respectively, but they haven't set dates. State law requires New Hampshire to hold its primary at least seven days before the next contest, which means Jan. 7 at the latest.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner told Politico on Thursday he will make no decision on a date for his state's primary until at least Oct. 17.
Between today and then, Strawn should pick up the phone, call Gardner and seek to work out an agreement under which the two states both can hold their contests the first week in January (in the Politico interview, Gardner said he last spoke with Strawn in June). We understand the separation between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary would be shorter than is traditional, but the two states would remain one and two.
And Iowa wouldn't be pushed into December.
Since the national Republican Party created this game of musical chairs by not enforcing its caucus and primary calendar rules, it isn't going to be of any help in determining these last two dates.
Together, Iowa and New Hampshire must do it themselves.