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Iowa Republicans to Caucus on Jan. 3

The Iowa Republican Party has officially chosen Jan. 3, 2008, as the date of its presidential caucus, staking out the first Thursday in the month for the earliest-ever presidential contest. Party officials made the decision in a conference call last night. Tuesday evening. The officials have urged Iowa Democrats to join them on Jan. 3 but have not received word, they said.

In the past, the two parties have held their caucuses on the same day. But this year, the Democrats could decide to hold their contest on Jan. 5, forcing political observers to split their attention for the first time. Democrats yesterday were still holding out that option, with party spokeswoman Carrie Giddens saying only that the state Democrats are "planning for a January caucus."

Representatives for both parties said they are in discussions about how to maximize the state's political influence. The Iowa caucuses, which traditionally kick off the presidential campaign season, could still be upstaged by the New Hampshire presidential primaries, which usually follow Iowa by a week. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has teased the political world with the idea of a December primary, perhaps as early as Dec. 11.
Such an unprecedented move could force the Iowa parties to reconsider their dates. But even if they don't, yesterday's Tuesday's decision means Republican candidates will be slogging through the snow on New Year's Day as they campaign in Iowa. "With under 80 days to go, this is a huge help to our counties and county chairs to get the ball rolling and start organizing. They have 1,784 precinct caucus meetings to run, thousands of volunteers to recruit, and our presidential candidates deserve a set date," executive director Chuck Laudner said in a statement.

-- .Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  October 16, 2007; 9:30 PM ET
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