In a long-expected move, the Executive Committee of the Republican Committee voted Monday to strip half the delegates from five states that moved their primaries up beyond a start date of Feb. 5.
But even though the Iowa GOP jumped from Jan. 14 to Jan. 3, they won't be penalized, because the presidential vote at the Iowa Republican caucus is non-binding, the AP reports.
Iowa Republican caucus goers vote at a "straw poll" and then later in the evening select the county convention delegates who ultimately choose state and national delegates. The results of the delegate vote are not connected to the votes in the presidential straw poll.
The RNC voted to sanction New Hampshire -- even though the state hasn't yest set any primary date. The other penalized states are Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Wyoming. Nevada, which votes early but with similar rules to Iowa, was not penalized.
The GOP has no equivalent to the Democrat's official four early states -- Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina -- allowed to go before Feb. 5 without penalty.
But it also has nothing like the early state pledge signed by the top six Democrats, who vowed not to campaign in leapfrogging Florida and Michigan, and the Republican 50 percent of delegates penalty is more lenient than the Democrat's 100 percent. Republicans are spending plenty of time in the two states, and have debated in both recently.
In a move reminiscent of Florida's Democrats suing Democrats case, the South Carolina GOP chair said he will consider legal action if the state is penalized delegates.
But other states seem content with the attention from candidates and delegate penalties which may never be enforced. Florida GOP chair Jim Greer issued this statement:
"While we disagree with the Republican National Committee's recommendation to sanction the State of Florida, at the end of the day this is a disagreement among friends and we recognize that we are all working towards a common goal -- re-electing a Republican President in 2008. With that in mind, we are confident that Florida will retain our full delegation to the Convention and all 114 delegates will be seated."
The proposed penalties go before the full national committee next month.