North Carolina Republican leaders have decided it's time the state's voters get near the front of the pack for good in choosing the next president.
The elections overhaul law they pushed through the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory schedules the state's presidential preference primaries on the Tuesday immediately after South Carolina's, probably in February. North Carolina usually has held one primary for all state races in early May, often after presidential candidates sew up their nominations.
South Carolina and the national parties likely will have a say whether North Carolina can participate so early. The Democrats and Republican parties can take away delegates from the state parties for their national conventions. One South Carolina GOP leader says he'll protect their prized first-in-the South designation.