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.