Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Talk of a Non-Tuesday Presidential Primary in Florida

One thing that made it around political circles on the internet Monday was the rehashing of a story from three weeks ago that came out of some questions to and comments from RNC chair, Reince Priebus about the scheduling of the Florida presidential primary. The basic premise is that Florida would hold a primary in early March -- according to Andrew Smith in early June, it was Thursday, March 1 -- but before the window period begins for other non-exempt states on Tuesday, March 6. The theory goes that Florida can somehow avoid the full brunt of the RNC penalties if the Sunshine state primary is scheduled in a way that leaves Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to hold their contests throughout February as planned with Florida carving out a niche between those contests and the other states.

As theories go, this isn't a horrible one. But there are gaps in it that should be addressed. First of all, it has focused on the wrong players. Obviously, Chairman Priebus should technically have some say in the matter. He does have a small amount of leeway in terms of the doling out the sanctions on a non-compliant Florida delegation, but ultimately that may not be enough to get the powers-that-be in Florida to act in accordance with the national party's delegate selection rules. The latest round in the this story has focused on statements by Florida Republican Party chair, David Bitner. Again, like Priebus, Bitner has no real say in the matter. He, all along, has maintained that he wants Florida to be compliant and to preserve its full delegation, while having no real power to move the legislature and now the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee to do what he wants as state party chair. Of Governor Scott, Speaker Cannon and President Haridopolos -- the men entrusted with staffing the committee -- the latter two have been quite outspoken in their "Florida will be early and have an influence over the Republican nomination at all costs" stance.

And that leads to the second area where there are holes in this early March theory. If Florida is going to claim its position as the fifth state they may have to deal with Michigan, Arizona and to a much lesser degree, Minnesota for that role. The way this is being reported, Florida can slide into a spot between the early states and everyone else and all will be mostly right with the world. But if actors in Florida mean business about being fifth, then Michigan and Arizona stand in the way of that coming to fruition. There have been rumblings of Michigan moving to January (and legislation has been proposed in the legislature to that end) and Arizona is locked into February 28 at the latest. Those are both dates that would be ahead of that early, non-Tuesday March contest, Florida is supposedly eying. FHQ has heard enough from Haridopolos and Cannon to convince us that those states pushing ahead of Florida will not stand. That, in turn, means that Florida moving even earlier in their first Tuesday in January to first Tuesday in March window becomes much more likely.

Obviously, that has implications for where the first four states will end up on the calendar as well. And around and around we go...

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