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Florida commission sets Jan. 31 for presidential primary, following some last-minute wrangling

by John Kennedy | September 30th, 2011

Amid some last-minute wrangling, a special commission Friday agreed to set Jan. 31 as the date for the state’s presidential primary — risking penalties from the national parties but giving what supporters said is Florida’s rightful, powerful place in selecting the nominees.

With President Obama assured of being renominated, the early date controversy largely focused on Republicans. The Jan. 31 date was set on a 7-2 vote by the commission, with the only opposition coming from a pair of Democrats on the panel.

“I don’t want to see the voices in Florida diminished and be penalized because we didn’t follow the rules,” said Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, who joined with Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, in voting against the early date.

Stafford and Siplin had pushed for a March 6 primary date. Former Sen. Al Lawson, another Democrat on the panel, had proposed a Jan. 3 primary — before siding with the majority on the Jan. 31 date.

Both national parties last year approved a rule barring states from holding primaries before March 6, with the exception of the traditional early-voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Those states are now expected to advance their primary and caucus votes ahead of Florida — resulting in a spate of January voting dates that the Republican National Committee had sought to avoid.

Florida’s move was sparked, at least in part, by Arizona, Michigan and Missouri, which recently also leapfrogged the early states to schedule delegate-selection contests in February. House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, said such shifting effectively forced Florida’s hand.

“I believe the voters in Florida need to be heard as loud and as impactful as possible,” he said. “I respect the Republican National Committee, I respect the institution of the party, but at the end of the day, I have a constitutional duty to the citizens of this state, who are paying for this election.”

Florida and other states jumping forward face the loss of half their delegates to the Republican Party’s nominating convention next summer in Tampa. Some critics say that could blunt Florida’s allure.

The RNC has scheduled a 3 p.m. conference call to respond to the moves by Florida and other states.

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10 Responses to “Florida commission sets Jan. 31 for presidential primary, following some last-minute wrangling”

  1. Peter Schorsch Says:

    Scary thought: With FL’s prez primary moved to Jan. 31, ballots will go out as early as Dec. 17!!!

    goo.gl/Qe53z

  2. voter Says:

    This is just another example of how our elected republican “leaders” continue to prove that they don’t care about the voters at all. It’s not as if the earlier 4 states are going to choose enough delegates for the race to be decided.

  3. Searcher Says:

    Another POWER GRAB, brought to you by the Florida Republican Party. I guess that they don’t want any more Conventions in the state.

    But, the early campaign will suck some of the primary contestants dry! Florida has multiple television and print markets. It will cost all of them BIG BUCKS to run early here…..

  4. Kevin Duval Says:

    See the Democrats jump on this but not when the Democrats did it. Remember youc could have Hillary but you got Obama. You didnt jump on Wexler or even Siplin…Pathetic parties.

  5. Bob Says:

    Read the story, both R’s and D’s voted for this. I t was a political, not a party decision. Republican National Commetteeman came out against moving date up.

  6. Searcher Says:

    So, does it SURPRISE YOU that 2/3 of the 9 member commission are Repubs? With only 1/3 of the votes, ie.3, the DEMS have no power ad therefore NO RESPONSIBILITY for this Repub power play. Don’t blame it on the minority party:

    http://miamiherald.typepad.com/

  7. Disgusted Republican Says:

    This might be a blessing for the 60% of registered Republicans and 80% of the American voters who value competence and common sense and want a better choice than Obama next November, but only if the Republican National Committee had enough spine to enforce the rules and refuse to seat wrongfully elected delegates at the convention.

    After the “conservative axis of evil” between tea party activists and shadowy “citizens committees” (who spent unprecedented money to attack their moderate opponents in Florida’s big media markets) brought us leaders like Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Alan West, I have little faith that the Republican delegates who are likely to be elected in 2012, are likely to provide the party with a Presidential candidate who can lead the country and find sensible policies to improve the lives of all (or even more than a few) of the American people.
    The core Republican ideals of encouraging personal responsibility, protecting free enterprise, and building limited and effective government have been hijacked in recent Florida primaries by a vocal minority of one issue and anti-issue voters who claim to be “the base” and drowned out by a well funded chorus of attack adds aimed at any moderate candidate who seeks solutions for America that cannot be described in a 15 second sound bite.
    My views may make me a “RINO” in the eyes of those Republicans who consider themselves “the base” – but maybe number of good moderate Republican candidates and voters who have left the party in Florida is an indication of how far “off base” the current voice of the party has become in terms of solving the real problems of homeowners who still make their mortgage payments, small businesses who want fair access to capital and markets so they can grow, and self reliant people who want an honest job with health care benefits so they can provide for their families without depending on the government.

  8. Kevin Says:

    Hey Bob , you should read the article over yourself. The 2 Democrats on the panel voted against the Jan 31 date in a 7 -2 decision. I would like to see Florida loose all of their delegates due to this arrogant petulant move.

  9. Disgusted Voter Says:

    This 2 bit power hungry committee of 9 has the power to tell all the rest of the citizens when we will vote and to gamble with the power and meaningfulness of our sacred vote. They are trying to rush the vote to minimize the influence on the lesser challengers in the race. The ‘Party” wants their boy to get his spot. The ‘Party’ is not the ‘People’, it a small group of power hungry assholes. The smartest and best choice isn’t the Party’s pick or their concern. The whole system is corrupt and needs to be revamped.

    The primary system should be a national runoff. The whole country votes on the same day. If on one canadate doesn’t get a 50% share, the group gets dwindle down to the top 3. Then another election held 30 days after. And the process can be repeated until someone gets a majority, over 50% of the votes. All registered parties can do this for their candidates. All primaries should be open to only voters registered to that party. We then go for a general election with only poplar votes and get rid of the corrupt Electorical Collage.
    This is a step in “We the people taking our country back!”

  10. Obama '12 Says:

    THANK YOU!!!

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