(Jim Cole / Associated Press )
Reporting from Manchester, N.H. — Nevada Republicans on Saturday voted to move the date of their nominating caucuses to February, a decision that likely ends uncertainty over the 2012 election calendar and avoids having the first votes for president cast this year.
The state party's executive committee shifted the GOP caucuses to Feb. 4, after New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said he was prepared to call the first-in-the-nation primary in December if Nevada's caucuses remained on Jan. 14.
"We think that it's time somebody acted like an adult," former Nevada Gov. Bob List, a member of the state executive committee, said in an interview before the meeting.
The Republican National Committee had initially adopted rules calling for presidential nominating contests to begin in February in four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. But Florida leaders announced last month that they would hold the state’s primary on Jan. 31. South Carolina Republicans then called for a Jan. 21 primary, followed by Nevada's initial decision to move to the 14th.
But then Gardner, citing state law that requires seven days between the New Hampshire primary and any "similar election," said he would be forced in that scenario to call his state's vote in December. Most Republican presidential candidates then said they would boycott Nevada's caucuses if the state did not move to allow New Hampshire to remain in January.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus this week appealed to Nevada Republican Party chair Amy Tarkanian for Feb. 4 caucuses, saying it would "eliminate the uncertainty caused by Florida’s actions and the posturing of New Hampshire’s secretary of state."
"With this decision Nevada will receive the attention it deserves," he said in a statement after the vote.
Gardner is still unlikely to officially set his state's primary election right away; the most likely date for the contest would be Jan. 10. He told New Hampshire’s city and town clerks this week that the Nevada situation seemed to be resolving itself and that a December primary would not be necessary.
Iowa Republicans had already announced they will hold their caucuses Jan. 3.
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney was not among those who joined the Nevada boycott. But speaking at the opening of his New Hampshire campaign headquarters just before the Nevada decision was made official, Romney said he wanted "to protect" New Hampshire's position.
"I take my cues from Bill Gardner," Romney said.