CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - South Carolina Republicans on Monday announced they will hold their U.S. presidential primary on January 21, making the move to keep their contest ahead of Florida's primary contest.
Defying national party leaders, Florida on Friday set its primary election for January 31.
But only four states are authorized by the Republican National Committee to go first in the 2012 nominating process -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
Voting had been scheduled to start with Iowa caucuses on February 6, the New Hampshire primary on February 14, Nevada caucuses on February 18 and the South Carolina primary on February 28.
South Carolina moved its primary earlier in response to Florida's move, state Republicans said.
"Last Friday, a nine-person committee brought chaos to the 2012 calendar. Today, South Carolina is making things right," said South Carolina Republican Chairman Chad Connelly in a statement.
"South Carolina Republicans have a 30-year track record of picking the eventual Republican Presidential nominee. We will continue that historic tradition on January 21, 2012."
(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Ellen Wulfhorst)