A recent report from CNN claims that the state of Florida is likely to move the Republican primary date up as early as January 31, much to the chagrin of party leaders.
Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon said that the nine-member state commission tasked with selecting Florida’s primary date will be meeting today from 11am to noon. Cannon stated, “I expect that they will pick January 31 as Florida’s primary date.”
The decision would violate RNC rules which prohibit states outside of the four “carve-out” states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina – from holding their primaries before March 6. Such a move would force the traditional early states to hold their primaries in early to mid-January.
Ignoring the rule could also cost the state half of their delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next August. Delegates are the party representatives which ultimately select the nominee at the convention.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and other party officials have been trying to persuade Florida governor Rick Scott and top legislative leaders to set the primary date back to February 21 to keep the party’s nominating calendar from disarray.
Members of the commission want Florida to be the fifth state to hold their primary, a coveted position that increases the visibility and significance for the state. The commission is suspicious of a handful of other states that have threatened to hold their primaries before February 21.
Another concern is that if the early states are forced to start their primaries in early January, candidates would be forced to campaign through the holiday season away from home.
South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said, “If Florida moves, it would create chaos. The calendar would be so compressed that the states that are trying to [be] more relevant, that I don’t think it would do any good for them.”
The AP reported that is official. The nine-member panel decided to hold the Florida Republican presidential primary on January 31. The final vote was 7-2.
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn criticized the decision saying, “The arrogance shown by Florida’s elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising.” He went on to say that the state’s penalty should include refusing to credential or seat any member of Florida’s primary date selection panel.