- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina Senate on Monday took the first formal move in a deal to delay the state’s presidential primary until March, yielding to Republican National Committee threats to slash the number of delegates representing the state at next year’s party convention.

In line with a deal announced over the weekend, a Senate committee agreed to a March 15 date for both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Initially, lawmakers had planned to hold the primaries in February, just days after South Carolina’s. Before this year, they had held the primaries in May, when the decision on an eventual nominee is usually already all but certain.

The RNC said it planned to enforce a party rule limiting the number of states that can hold their primaries before March 1 to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. If North Carolina continued as planned, party leaders said the state would lose 80 percent of its delegates. Democrats also risk cuts to their delegation if the state holds a February primary.

That meant that both parties could potentially lose more clout than they stood to gain from holding an early primary.

The state will still hold its non-presidential primaries in May, and the cost of the added election will be between $3 million to $5 million. Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, told the Senate Redistricting Committee the state would recoup that money from the economic impact of having a politically significant primary.

The House was the first to give in to the RNC demands, voting in April to hold the primary on March 8. The deal approved by the Senate committee is expected to go the floor this week. If it is passed, it will be sent to the House for approval. It could make it to the governor’s desk by Wednesday.

Florida, Ohio and Missouri are also scheduled to hold their primaries on March 15.

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