Florida holds fast to January 31 primary date
September 30th, 2011
09:30 AM ET
11 years ago

Florida holds fast to January 31 primary date

Washington (CNN) - A panel of Florida legislators bucked national Republican Party rules Friday and approved a motion to hold the state's presidential primary on Jan. 31 of next year.

The move, crafted to ensure that Florida goes fifth in the nominating process, is certain to scramble the presidential primary calendar and push the first contest of the GOP nomination fight into the early days of January.

Political Notebook: CNN’s Bob Costantini discusses Florida’s decision to move up its primary date with a Sunshine State political scientist; and CNN’s Lisa Desjardins has the outlook for budget and jobs action on Capitol Hill. Shutdown threat, anyone?

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - the only four states allowed to vote before March 6 under Republican National Committee rules - have collectively vowed to move the dates of their caucuses and primaries ahead of Florida to protect their early voting status.

If those first four states move to the front of line as expected, the campaign for the GOP nomination will officially begin a full month earlier than expected, leaving candidates and potential candidates like Sarah Palin and Chris Christie even less time to make their cases to voters.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn vowed to remain first in the process and released a harshly worded statement calling on the RNC to punish Florida's delegation to next August's Republican National Convention in Tampa.

"The arrogance shown by Florida's elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising," Strawn said.

"Equally troubling is to see this petulant behavior rewarded with our national convention," he added. "The consequences of Florida's intransigence must be swift and severe, including the refusal by the RNC to credential or seat any member of Florida's presidential primary date commission at the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa."

By tradition, Iowa waits for New Hampshire to set its first-in-the-nation primary date before choosing a date for the caucuses.

Saturday is the deadline for states to submit the dates of the primaries to the RNC.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State did not immediately announce a primary date but, in a statement, did not rule out holding the contest as early as December 2011.

The first four states are working together and are likely to announce their dates together, a source familiar with the discussions said.

The source said that the states are unlikely to announce their dates today and may wait until after Saturday's RNC deadline to do so.

Florida went ahead with their plan, first reported by CNN on Wednesday, despite an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying effort from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and party leaders in other states.

RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski tried to set an even tone in response Friday.

"While the primaries will now start earlier than planned, the overarching goal of the current rules was to allow more states and voters to have a role in choosing the next Republican nominee for President. This goal will be met," she said.

Under RNC rules, states in violation of the calendar can be stripped of half their delegates to next August's Republican National Convention in Tampa.

RNC members are also mulling stiffer penalties for rule-breaking states, like banishing those delegations to far away hotels in the Tampa area and giving their delegations the worst seats inside the convention hall.

But because the GOP convention is being hosted in the Sunshine State next summer and the eventual GOP nominee will likely want to avoid a nasty intra-party spat, Florida officials were confident enough to move ahead with the Jan. 31 primary date.

Saturday is the deadline for states to submit the dates of the primaries to the RNC.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry praised the nine-person commission of Florida legislators for their "thorough" decision-making process.

"That process included discussion of a range of dates from Jan. 3 to March 6 or later, so this compromise of Jan. 31 properly reflects the importance Florida will play on the national stage," Curry said. "We look forward to having a great primary, and then hosting a world-class convention for our party's nominee."

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Primary Calendar
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Yes, the GOP's tiresome, infantile infighting for influence is certainly far more important than reporting about thousands of people occupying Wall Street for days now...or the fact that major players are starting to get involved and the crowd is likely to grow to 20K or more by the end of this weekend...or the fact that they're suffering abuse and physical attacks from police for trumped up, fabricated minor offenses....such as repeated pepper spraying from a police officer (Anthony Balogna) who has already been sued multiple times for abusive behavior during the Republican Nat'l Convention. Or hey, aren't the Teatrolls planning another vapid and pointless bus tour soon? Maybe the Koch brothers will make some "donations" to CNN if the bus tour gets covered while the Wall Street protest goes unreported in any way shape or form? Quick, send cameras, I think there's like 4 of them carrying mis-spelled picket signs outside the WH right now...

    September 30, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Jt_flyer

    Just makes sure your voting machines work!

    September 30, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. HolyChrist

    Good for Florida. F the Republican's calendar. I wish Obama made the same move when they had conflicting dates.

    September 30, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Jay

    So SILLY – everyone should just vote on the same date – problem solved because I for one don't give a damn about the opinions of who Iowa and who New Hampshire vote for – for crying out loud with all the flipping problems in this country we have states fighting to be FIRST to vote whats the prize – you get to help some BOZO get a job that they will suck at and then what?

    September 30, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Santa Claus

    Wait, Florida did something dumb?

    This has never happened before!

    September 30, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. vito

    who cares about anarchist pickers – wasting our tax resource – why aren't they in front of the white house asking for solyndra handouts

    September 30, 2011 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. easydoesit

    Neat the opinion of five liberals.

    September 30, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. Brutus1234

    Pathetic, petty children. When my 6 year does something comparable I put in him a timeout in the corner

    Personally I beleive in the principles of the financial conservatism, limited government but what this republican party has become turns my stomach. I vote anti-republican now-a-days. That anti-republican vote has been going to the democrats even though I don't agree with most of their policies. If another viable poltical party were to ever develop, my vote may change

    Hey republicans if you're listening...

    Keep the core financial principles and drop the crazy and you may stand a chance of winning the next election

    September 30, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. DNadeau

    This gives less time for us to discover the voting machines are rigged again... Of course they only compute Rick Perry the NWO soldier of fortune

    September 30, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. FL? Where is that?

    I see two easy solutions for this problem.

    1. Have all primaries run on the same day. That is how the election is done, and it will not give undue influence to any state.
    2. Give all states a set date and penalize the state who tries to change the date by cancelling their participation in the primary.

    September 30, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    Sure likes everybody is real anxious to get the process started to throw Obama and the Democrats on the scrap heap of history, along with all their failed policies. I sure know the feeling!

    September 30, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Pam

    Just proves how dysfunctional the National Republican party is!!!

    September 30, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Rick in OP

    Iowa and New Hampshire have far too much say in the presidential election process. They each have relatively small populations who do not represent cross section of America. Thankfully, Florida is asserting themselves in the primary process.
    Now that I think about it, the candidates who win the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries usually are not nominated.

    September 30, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. A. Goodwin

    I can't wait to see who the frontrunner will be for the GOP. Not that it matters since Obama will get a second term....

    September 30, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. akintos

    This is simptomatic of the Republican party bigs intent to control who the candidate will be. They can do that with the aformentioned 4 primary holding states, But not with an independent minded Florida. Control, control, and more control. That 's what the "conservative' and "free enterprise" Republican party has become. They therefore want to usurp what the Florida Legislature has decided. This constitutes opposition to disent. They want to leverage off of the undecided and uninformed voters who are easily influenced by headlines They have already got their candidate already in mind. The first 4 primaries will give them the blitz momentum. Florida stands in their way. Florida prevents the fix. You do the math.

    September 30, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. eville_11

    Why does Bachmann look more like Pelosi everyday..everytime I see her its like a Pelosi flashback, and her extremism is right up there just on the right side...

    September 30, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Jersey Girl

    Why not rotate the states that go first through an orderly cycle? Every state gets a shot at being first. And if you do leapfrog – no voice at national convention. End of story.

    September 30, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. Cody

    I can't wait for the Republican's to make their nomination. No matter who it is, more than half of the Republican's will hate the selection and go to Obama.

    Watching them self destruct is going to be awesome 😀

    September 30, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. No real leader in sight...

    There is no real leader in the White House or outside so far..Obama aged and looks old and broken..

    Romney and Perry aged before our eyes in the primaries...how will they do in the White House...?.

    September 30, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    FL? Where is that? wrote:
    I see two easy solutions for this problem.
    1. This would most likely deny many voters an opportunity to meet the candidates face to face. They would simply focus on the states with the largest delegations, which is exactly what they do after the get a party nomination.
    2. Isn't this what they have now. States are assigned dates by allowing them to choose a date within a framework of rules.

    Let's face it. There are elements within the Republican Party who have the rather ugly and arrogant attitude that says, "My way. My way. My way. Stop if you can, because I know you cannot."

    September 30, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. gino

    There are a number of good burghers on both sides of the political aisle saying that after December 21, 2012,
    none of this idiotic political degeneracy will make any difference. One can only hope they're right.

    September 30, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. JOE

    Liberals have nothing to worry about as long as Jed Bush is out of Florida. I'd rather trust KC Anthony over looking the election process than a Republican.

    September 30, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. smoke

    You people can slam this party, slam that party all day long. It doesn't matter who wins or gets re-elected. Everyone knows politicians lie, lie, and did I mention they lie? This country is slowly becoming a socialist nation. And the suits in Washington are just puppets. Better start praying.

    September 30, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Keoni Koch

    America is dead. Its such an ugly big monster with such a huge following of morons. United? Divided? Who cares. CNN. Fox. They are all avenues of division and slant. I used to follow CNN for years. Now I see them as one in the same as Fox. Partisan engines to keep the turbines of war a churnin. I am sick of this country. The hypocrisy of it, and its people literally make me ill. How could we have possible lost our way so much? Why argue about voting early, when its so obvious the American public has no choice after media influence anyways?

    September 30, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Granny VA

    Its about time some states other than NH and Iowa get to influence the nomination. I'm tired of voting in meaningless primaries because the nominee is already decided. Set 5 dates and let ALL states choose the one they prefer.

    September 30, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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