SHARE

South Carolina’s “First in the South” status took a bit of a hit last year when former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the Palmetto State’s presidential primary (and then promptly imploded).

In fact when Gingrich’s fellow socialized medicine supporter Mitt Romney wound up capturing the GOP nomination, it marked the first time in history that South Carolina “Republicans” did not accurately predict the eventual Republican nominee.

Hmmmm … if only S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley had stayed out of the race, right?

Anyway … much to the chagrin of Florida voters, South Carolina will retain its coveted “First in the South” spot in the 2016 Republican presidential nominating process, sources tell FITS.

“It’s a done deal,” one national source familiar with the negotiations says.

State party officials (who spoke with us on condition of anonymity) confirmed that assessment.

Obviously we’re a long way from specific dates being set, but it’s looking as though 2016 will follow a similar schedule as 2012 – in which Iowa holds its caucus in early January, followed by New Hampshire a week later and then South Carolina a week or so after that.

Let’s just hope there’s a better slate of candidates this go-round …

So far, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has been the most aggressive “pre-candidate” on the Republican side, visiting all three early primary states. In fact Paul is scheduled to make another trip to South Carolina next week. Among establishment (read: fiscally liberal, “neoconservative”) Republicans, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has emerged as the early favorite.