RALEIGH – 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.

But how North Carolina cut in line this summer for 2016 is riling up its close neighbor because the primary would bump up against South Carolina’s prized first-in-the-South designation, threatening its influence. The national parties could penalize the state, too.

The new elections overhaul law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory this month schedules North Carolina’s presidential preference primaries for all parties on the Tuesday immediately after South Carolina’s, which have been commonly held in January or February. North Carolina’s primaries traditionally have been held in early May, alongside the other state primary races.

Legislators supporting an earlier presidential primary date say it would give North Carolina a greater say over Democratic and Republican nominees, in keeping with its growing influence as a presidential battleground state and the nation’s 10th largest by population.