Top Florida Republican proposes flexible primary date
April 13th, 2011
03:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Top Florida Republican proposes flexible primary date

Washington (CNN) - Saying that he wants to keep Florida early in the presidential primary calendar, a leading Republican state lawmaker is proposing to create a ten member commission that would study the best date for the state to hold its contest.

House Speaker Dean Cannon told reporters Wednesday that a bill would be introduced Thursday to create the commission, which by October 1 of this year would need to pick a primary date between the first Tuesday in January and the first Tuesday in March.

Florida's primary is currently slated for January 31, 2012.

That's in direct violation of the presidential nominating calendar ratified last year by the Democratic and Republican National Committees, which carved out February for the official start of the nomination fight and once again placed contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina at the front of the process. According to the DNC & RNC calendar, all other states would have to hold their contests no earlier than the first Tuesday in March.

Saying that "Florida's the largest swing state in the nation and essential to winning the White House," Cannon said that his ultimate goal is "whether we're first or fourth, we should be early in the process."

Cannon added that state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a fellow Republican, supports the plan, which he said would be taken up by the House State Affairs Committee.

The date of Florida's presidential primary is at the center of a controversy for the second straight cycle. The Sunshine state held its 2008 contest on January 31, ahead of other large states and in violation of the national party committees' calendars. The early date led the DNC to temporarily penalize Florida by stripping the state of some of its delegates to the party's national nomination convention.

Florida's date currently remains on January 31. A vote by state lawmakers is currently needed to change the date, and the current state legislative session ends in 24 days. But the proposed measure would change the part of the law that requires approval by the state legislature to change the Jan. 31st date. The new date chosen by the proposed committee would not need such approval.

Cannon says the plan would "ensure that Florida remains relevant but ads flexibility," rather than keeping the state locked into a set date.

Adding that his goal is to "avoid a national foodfight over when the date is," Cannon said he and his staff have had on-going conversations with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, but noted that he has not talked to Priebus recently.

Last month the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida said he was open to moving his state's primary date from the first to the fifth position on the 2012 presidential nominating calendar calendar. His comments came hours after the South Carolina and Iowa Republican parties demanded that the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa be re-located to a different state unless Florida Republicans move their presidential primary to a later date. The RNC affirmed that the convention will remain in Tampa.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Florida
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. TP

    Make sure you give yourselves more time than other states? Remember Bush Gore election? Florida couldn,t even count their votes? Republicans? For Sure!!!! Whata pity! How are all you "Mega-Rich" Repubs and teapartiers doing down there? Do you think you can count now?

    April 13, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. BeverlyNC

    That's because Republicans don't have any serious, qualified candidates to run for President. Instead of embarrassing themselves further, and saving all the money to be spent on the campaign, why don't they just admit they have no leaders who could possibly handle the Presidency and just let President Obama keep leading our nation? We should have Congressional elections so the PEOPLE who now know Republicans are intent on destroying America and can vote them out and replace them with serious Democrats who know how to govern, how to solve problems, and will do it with intelligence and the urgency needed to restore our nation.

    April 13, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. VA is for Lovers

    That's right Iowa! Florida doesn't care about your little the next time a Hurrican nearly wipes them off the map. Don't send the OLD FARTS a dime!! They don't need you!! They rather cheat in elections like this is the Ivory Coast and Gbagbo was running! SMH Florida, you are an embarrasment to the other 49!! For more reasons than ONE!!!

    April 13, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. C. Howe Yulikit

    Way to pander! Showing some of that "strong leadership to make tough decisions" moxie right there, I tells ya.

    April 13, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. T'sah from Virginia

    oops – THIS STORY – All primaries should be held at the SAME TIME then go from there!!!

    April 13, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |