Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Florida GOP Eschews Presidential Primary Cancelation, but...

While a handful of other Republican state parties have made decisions throughout the summer months of 2019 to cancel 2020 primaries and caucuses, the Florida Republican Party has chosen not to join the club.

Republican Party of Florida chair, Joe Gruters said, "If people think that they want to challenge the president, by all means, go ahead, they’re going to get annihilated," according to The Palm Beach Post.

But while spinning the likely landslide primary win as a bonus for the president is one thing, that may not be the end of the story on the fate of the Republican presidential primary the Sunshine state in 2020. Florida, as it turns out, has a law on the books that cancels the primary if only one candidate makes the primary ballot. This canceled the Republican primary in the state in 2004 when George W. Bush was up for renomination. And the Florida primary was again canceled in 2012 when Barack Obama saw no competition for the Democratic presidential nomination.

That could again happen in Florida for 2020 depending on ballot access. But here's the rub: the bar for ballot access to the presidential primary in the Sunshine state is quite low. There are no petitions and no filing fees as hoops through which the various campaigns have to jump. Instead, the process is initiated by the state party itself. A state party submits to the Florida secretary of state a list of candidates to be included on the primary ballot by November 30, 2019. The secretary of state, then, publishes the list within the week by December 3. That becomes the official list unless one or more of the candidates wants his or her name removed from the ballot.

There is still a chance, then, that the Florida primary will be canceled, but it hinges on the list that the Republican Party of Florida will, itself, submit to the secretary of state. Chair Gruters' comments above seem to imply that the three challengers are more than welcome to a spot on the primary ballot.

But whether the party actually submits their names by November 30 remains to be seen. That is the key question moving forward.

The Florida primary is set for March 17 and would retain the winner-take-all allocation formula the party has utilized in recent cycles (according to the party rules adopted in 2017).

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