The primary season will start earlier than expected next year.
Florida said Friday it will hold its Republican presidential primary on Jan. 31.
"We're the biggest swing state in the union," said Republican former Gov. Bob Martinez, a member of the selection panel.
"Texas is red, New York is blue, California's blue, and we're 10 electoral votes greater than Ohio" he said. "So I think this is a real, real election in Florida."
The move will likely prompt other states to move their primary and caucus dates up as well.
Officials in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina have said they'll change their dates to stay ahead of Florida.
According to party rules, those four are the only states allowed to hold primaries before March 6.
--Published Sept. 30, 2011