SC Republicans retain first-in-the-South primary

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Republicans meeting in Missouri have retained South Carolina as the first Southern primary for the 2012 presidential race.

The South Carolina GOP said in a news release Friday the state likely will hold its primary in late February after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests - typically the first in the nation. Nevada also will be allowed to hold its primary in February.

States that award delegates on a proportional basis will be allowed to hold primaries in March and those in winner-take-all states will go in April.

Critics worried about extending the process when President Obama likely won't face a primary opponent in 2012. But advocates say the plan adds order to a chaotic process.

Since 1980, the winner of South Carolina's primary won the GOP nomination.

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