The Republican Party has rules about upending the presidential primary calendar. States that try to move their nominating contests before March 1 will be penalized by the RNC.
Utah wants to be "first in the nation" to hold a presidential primary in 2016.
The Utah House passed a bill on Monday that would allow the Beehive State to hold a nominating contest a week before any other state via online voting, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The measure now goes to the state Senate, which needs to act before the chamber adjourns its legislative session later this week.
The move by Utah is not without peril.
The Republican Party has rules about upending the presidential primary calendar. A new set of rules that would shorten the primary calendar and allow the traditional "first in the nation" states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to hold caucuses and primaries in February 2016 was approved by the Republican National Committee in January. Other states that try to move their nominating contests before March 1 will be penalized by the RNC, via a loss of delegates to the national convention.
Any attempt to juggle the presidential primary calendar and boot Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina out of their "first in the nation" perch is typically met with fierce resistance by these states. Before the Utah House vote, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner urged the state's lawmakers to reject the bill.
Josh Putnam, who writes the Frontloading HQ blog, notes that Gardner's batting average against potential rivals who challenge New Hampshire's status is 1.000 since 1976.
Utah's politicians argue their attempt to move up in the primary calendar is an effort to have greater influence in the presidential nominating practice. The state went last in the 2012 presidential nominating cycle, holding its primary on June 26 — well after Mitt Romney had secured the delegates needed to become the GOP standard-bearer.
"We've created a system that is blatantly discriminatory. It creates second-class states," Utah state Rep. Jon Cox, a Republican, is quoted as saying by the Salt Lake Tribune.