Florida About To Blow Up GOP Primary Calendar?

Florida is days away from making a decision that could throw the GOP primary calendar into chaos and have candidates stumping in Iowa and New Hampshire over the holidays once again:

Florida is now expected to hold its presidential primary on the last day in January 2012, a move likely to throw the carefully arranged Republican nominating calendar into disarray and jumpstart the nominating process a month earlier than party leaders had hoped.

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon told CNN on Tuesday that a state commission exploring potential primary dates is likely to choose January 31 to hold the nominating contest.

If that happens, it would almost certainly force the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to leapfrog Florida and move their primaries and caucuses into early- to mid-January.

“We are expecting to meet on Friday from 11 to 12, and I expect that they will pick January 31 as Florida’s primary date,” said Cannon, who helped select members of the nine-member commission.

States are required to submit the dates of their primary and caucuses to the Republican National Committee no later than Saturday, but most states are expected to choose their dates by the close of business Friday.

Florida’s move would directly violate RNC rules that forbid any state other than the first four “carve-out” states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — from holding a primary before March 6.

States that ignore the RNC rules are subject to losing half of their delegates — party representatives who ultimately choose the nominee — to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, next August.


Florida’s likely decision is expected to trigger a flood of calendar moves as other states look to shore up their relevance in the presidential nominating process.

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are almost certain to move up in order to defend their cherished early voting status.

“If Florida decides to go in January, they blow the RNC planned calendar wide open and we’ll be back to campaigning over the holidays as Iowa and New Hampshire hold their presidential caucus and primary in early January,” said Michigan National Committee member Saul Anuzis, who is on the RNC’s presidential nominating schedule committee.

Primaries in early January is utterly ridiculous, but as I’ve said before there’s isn’t really much that can be done about it.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Boyd says:

    I’m having a hard time understanding why Florida thinks that moving their primary date up to January is worth losing all their delegates. That’s a real head-scratcher for me.

  2. Lit3bolt says:

    Good. The more absurd the states act in the primaries, the sooner the entire ridiculous, corrupt system of choosing a president can be reformed.

  3. Xenos says:

    @Boyd: Is that how the rules work for the GOP? It was a pretty good solution when the Democratic Party penalized Florida, although there was an awful lot of complaining at the time by the PUMAs. If the GOP has not set up rules to handle this after what happened last time they have been really negligent.

  4. Boyd says:

    @Xenos: It’s actually only half their delegates (I misread the post), but I thought I’d heard that the penalty was supposed to be apportioned delegates instead of winner-take-all. I could probably figure all of this out, but it doesn’t interest me enough to exert enough effort to find out.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    What’s a PUMA?

  6. Boyd says:

    @MarkedMan: I think Xenos was referring to these guys.

  7. Boyd says:

    Although, now that I think about it, I suppose he could have been referring to Cougars in Training as Pumas.