Iowa GOP plans Jan. 15 for the first presidential caucuses. It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republicans in Iowa have scheduled the party’s presidential nominating caucuses for Jan. 15, 2024, putting the first votes in the next election just over six months away.

The Iowa Republican Party’s central state committee voted unanimously Saturday to hold the first contests on the third Monday in January — the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

Although Republican presidential candidates have been campaigning in Iowa since last winter, there has been some uncertainty about when the traditional pitch contests would take place. This is partly due to the Democratic National Committee’s reshuffling of the schedule and the dropping of Iowa as the first contest.

The GOP date is several weeks earlier than Iowa’s last three caucuses, but not as early as 2008, when they were held just three days into the new year.

Caucuses, unlike primary elections, are contests planned, funded and conducted by parties, not state election officials. Iowa’s announcement on Saturday allows New Hampshire, which has yet to set a primary election date, to protect its first-in-the-nation status, which is codified in state law. which requires this contest to take place at least seven days before any other primary.

Last month, Republicans in South Carolina adopted Feb. 24 as the date for the South’s first traditional primary, giving Nevada plenty of time to schedule its Republican caucuses without cluttering New Hampshire.

“We remain committed to maintaining Iowa’s cherished caucuses, the first in the nation, and we look forward to holding a historic caucus in the months ahead and defeating Joe Biden in November 2024,” the Republican Party Chairman said. of Iowa, Jeff Kaufmann, in a statement.

Saturday’s decision could have implications for both parties, as Iowa Democrats have been waiting for the state’s Republican Party to set its caucus date as they try to adjust to new DNC rules in the order of the 2024 presidential primary.

Democrats in Iowa have proposed holding a caucus on the same day as Republicans in the state and allowing attendees to vote for president by mail-in ballot. But Iowa Democrats said they might not immediately release the results.

This could allow the state party to still hold the nation’s first caucus without challenging a new primary schedule endorsed by President Joe Biden and endorsed by the DNC that calls for South Carolina to replace Iowa in first place and start the primary. vote on February 3.

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