Florida House Speaker vows to keep early 2012 primary date
February 17th, 2011
03:54 PM ET
12 years ago

Florida House Speaker vows to keep early 2012 primary date

Washington (CNN) - Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon said Thursday he sees little chance that his state will move its 2012 presidential primary date to later in the year to comply with rules approved by the two national political parties.

"I think we belong at the beginning of the national conversation about who the next president is, and so I favor keeping it early," Cannon told CNN during a visit to Washington. "I am aware of the risks, and people say it should be moved later, but I definitely favor keeping it early rather than moving it back like the parties are asking."

Florida's primary is currently scheduled for Jan. 31, 2012, tentatively placing it ahead of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - the four states given coveted February leadoff spots in the presidential nominating process.

All other states are forbidden from holding presidential contests before March 1, according to rules approved by both the Democratic and Republican national committees. Several states, including Florida, require legislative action to adjust their primary or caucus dates.

But if Florida Republicans - who control both chambers of the legislature and the governor's mansion - insist on keeping their primary date, they could compel the first four states to schedule their contests in January to protect their cherished leadoff status.

That would be a repeat performance of the front-loaded 2008 primary process that forced the presidential campaigns to spend the holidays campaigning in Iowa, which held its caucus on Jan. 3. The DNC and RNC were hoping to avoid that scenario when they set the calendar rules last year.

Cannon said he and other legislators, including state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, would consider moving the date a few days later into February to give the first four states some wiggle room. But he argued that Florida provides a better sampling of the nation's electorate than the first four states, and should remain at or near the front of the nominating process.

"We will consider moving it a little bit," Cannon said. "If the end result, whatever the date is, keeps Florida at the beginning or early in the dialogue, that's the goal."

The Sunshine State could be stripped of its delegates to the Republican National Convention as punishment for violating the calendar rules. But Cannon told CNN he is not worried about penalties and cannot envision a circumstance in which the RNC refuses to seat Florida's delegation, since the GOP convention will be held in Tampa.

"There is some understandable skepticism about what [the RNC] would do with Florida's delegates," Cannon said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has yet to take a firm position on the primary date and was recently urged by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to set a later date for the primary.

"We want to pick a date that is as early as a possible without losing delegates," said Scott's communications director Brian Burgess. "We don't want to be penalized. He prefers that we avoid that."

Filed under: 2012 • Florida
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker from Wisconsin

    I think it is important that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina pick the most extreme conservative to run for president of the GOP.

    February 17, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    Again my vote does not count in this state.

    February 17, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would prefer that the primaries start in February or March at the earliest. There is no reason to have them so early. It stretches out the the election season too far.

    February 17, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Florida: Where Democracy Goes to Die.

    February 17, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    Is it me or do I see that all these rethugs are all interchangeable? They all look the same, they all speak the same tired old rhetoric.
    Of course, I don't mean fatso barbour, I am talking about the house mostly. It's like the stepford congressmen!!! Scary as heck.

    February 17, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Florida's Gov. Scott is about as useless as a bull with tits in other words they don't have a governor, just an idiot.

    February 17, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "If families are off limits, why does this woman and Michele Baughman constantly criticize Mrs. Obama"

    Because they're fighting a very losing battle against Obama in the polls and in terms of Obama's approval rating right now...not to mention that he's really handed them a ton of rope, they've taken it and they're now backed into a corner. Jaberwocky Barbie keeps bringing up Mrs. Obama for one reason and one reason alone: distraction. If she or the GOPers allow the conversation to stay on the budgetary and fiscal issues for very long, someone's going to ask them a substantive question about Obama's or the GOP's proposal...a REAL question...and not let them jibba jabba some ideological talking point vagary in response. When that finally happens, their heads explode.

    February 17, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Tony in Maine

    Primaries in July and August, general election in November, no corporate money allowed for any purpose. The executive trying to buy a pol should do prison time and the pol who sells himself should have an adjoining cell.

    Fed up with the circus.

    February 17, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. ROFLCatDown

    That's what I really want. An even longer campaign process.

    Look, almost every one of these jokers is a governor, or senator, or somethingor... Their job, the one that their people elected them to do, is to represent them. This taking 2 years off of doing what's right for your people is moronic. Really, that's all we need is more politicians not doing their damn job.

    February 17, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Jeff in Virginia

    Wow, those two guys in the picture look INSANE.

    I can see the crazy from my house.

    February 17, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Edward Nashville, TN

    the election cycle is too long and drawn out as it is. It should appropriately begin April 1st on fools day and end with the November election.

    February 17, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Mr. Moderate

    Funny how the GOP is always screaming about state's rights but deny them to Flordia so they can allow some of the smallest and most homogeneous states in the nation to have an obscenely disproportionate influence in picking the president. The time has come for rotating regional primaries. Five regions, one a month from Feb to June. Every 20 years, each state will get a chance to be at the front of the line.

    February 17, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Florida Joe

    Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon and Gov Rick Scott.....2 of a kind to beat a full house....People of Florida "What the h-ll were you thinking" We are stuck with this idiot and THIEF for four years......nice going......enjoy the destruction he is and will cause

    February 17, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. T'sah from Virginia

    Every state belongs at the beginning – I don't see why Iowa, New Hampshire and sC is the stage to SET the future!! The whole process is tooooooooooooo long and BORING!!

    February 17, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |