Florida Moving Toward January 29 Primary

Florida is making a move to escalate the presidential selection process even more by jumping to the head of the primary line.

Hoping to muscle Florida into a pre-eminent role in picking next year’s Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, the state House voted Wednesday to leapfrog almost all the other states and set a Jan. 29 primary, with an option to go even earlier.

The change, championed by House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, and approved 115-1, is part of a national rush by states coveting the clout of Iowa and New Hampshire. Those states have enormous sway in choosing presidential candidates, even though they are small and, some say, unrepresentative of the nation’s people and politics. The proposal must still pass the Senate.

“Florida is obviously going to be the big enchilada on the 29th. It will immediately become very, very important,” said Nichol Rae, political science professor at Florida International University.

Florida’s bid for increased influence is being tempered by the other vote-rich giants, California, New York and Texas. California already has moved its primary to Feb. 5, and the others are expected to do the same.

It has been more than three decades since Florida mattered much when it comes to picking presidential candidates. Other states have moved up their primaries in recent years, and more and more attention has been going to earlier states. In the past few presidential races, the parties’ nominees have been effectively decided before Florida primary voters had a chance to participate.

This should be fun. Expect other states to counter this move.

UPDATE: The New Hampshire primary is tentatively scheduled for January 21, followed by South Carolina on the 29th (possibly joined by Florida). Wonk may not be too far off with the headline, “California OKs Feb. 5 Primary; New Hampshire Primary Tomorrow.”

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. B. Minich says:

    New Hampshire will NOT be pleased.

  2. Anderson says:

    At this rate, we will hold the 2012 primaries the day after the 2008 election.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    By law the New Hampshire Attorney General is empowered to move the New Hampshire primary so that it will continue to be the first in the nation. That includes moving it into 2007.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    At this rate, we will hold the 2012 primaries the day after the 2008 election.

    My thoughts exactly. Apparently the days of getting a break between presidential election cycles are now firmly behind us.

    God help us, this is going to suck.

  5. Michael says:

    I live in Florida, and this headline is misleading.

    It should read:
    “Florida Moving Toward January 29 Primary, will use the left turn blinker the whole way, and should arrive by the following May”.