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. RINO Bil

    So answer me this, why do Tea Republicans believe in state's rights, but not in this case? I thought they were absolutists, either one beieves in state's right in all cases, or one isn't a Tea Republican.

    Can anyone spell LITMUS TEST?

    September 30, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. Redneckauditor

    Does a political party have the right to tell a state legislature what are the rules?

    Especially interesting here in that both houses of the FL legislature are Republican majorities and the Governor is a Republican.

    September 30, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. The Other Michael in Houston

    Who cares who Florida chooses, or for that fact, any state chooses, President Obama will win the election, nothing none of you can do about that. The Republicans know that, that is why they are desperately trying to find anyone who might be able to stay within 30 points of President Obama, so they can feel good and say "we came close to winning". Republicans, get rid off your radical extreme Jihadist Tea Tards, and you might stand a chance in 2016.

    September 30, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Bryan

    Each hotel room provided for the Florida delegation shall be stripped of all toiletries and the air conditioners shall be disconnected...

    September 30, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Ed

    Just watching the Republican party self-destruct, slowly but surely.

    September 30, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Rich

    This is supposed to be a democracy. Let all Americans vote on the same day for the party candidates. Why should 4 or 5 states get to narrow the field and force the choice for the rest of us?

    September 30, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. Ross Perot

    Finally, someone willing to listen to me. Do yu really want some backward hick in IOWA or NH removing good poterntial candidates from the field? Why not have all primaries on the same date? That way all of America decides who gets the nomination.

    We should also not provide any presedential election night result tallies to the media until all states have closed thier polls. Human nature is to go with a winner, so if your candidate looks to be losing in the east and you live in the west, you will not vote for fear of being on the losing side.

    September 30, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. William995

    "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."

    If they (RNC) are at this non functioning level, why would I want to vote for any of them to govern ?

    September 30, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. logic in LA

    Since the press is hell bent on controlling the election by over talking about it- ( they no longer report news, they create it)
    Why not a single day for primaries like the general election?
    A caucus is not a legitimate vote. It's not even logical. Having to mount campaigns in individual states over several months makes no sense and is a waste of time and money.
    Candidates should announce in December the year before the election, be voted on in June of the following year and then have a general election in November. One year and no more. And no mention of possible candidates until a week before the filing date!

    September 30, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Jude

    you must watch "Inside Job".... only after that will you understand how insignificant you and everyone else including me are in this big mess. we are all trivial and they like to keep it that way. watch and weep or laugh at the comedy of horror

    September 30, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Kweg Yung

    Corporate America continues its expansion into China; where socialized healthcare and socialized education are the norm. Bush's “tax cuts for the rich” policy continues to help fund this transition. (When was the last time you saw a job created in the U.S.?) These former American companies only pay tax in China, supporting a growing communist government and military. The Republican party represents the rich corporations- and these corporations are moving to China. These guys aren't batting for us (U.S.) anymore. The writing is on the wall. Just open your eyes...

    September 30, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. andrew

    The republicans have finally lost their minds. They're not paying attention to joblessness or the poor economy, or to any issue facing us today. They're simply cursing each other and everybody else. Total negativity without a single plan. Nothing but lawsuits and threats to each other over politics.

    September 30, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. AntiFringe

    Hey Florida........a great step toward uniting the party.

    September 30, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Niki

    Way to go FL Republicans! I respect you're standing up to the establishment RNC. I hope your party will now discuss social security and health care with more maturity now that your state's interests are brought ahead of corn subsidies and gun control (at least for now).

    September 30, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. jordan

    Does not matter to me.I will never vote for the GOP Party.All of your Candidates are not nice people to be voting for.Go ahead and do your thing early.With folks like Bachmann and Perry your religous banter will not go far in the land of the free.

    September 30, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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