The announcement that Florida's presidential primary would be January 31, 2012 brought cheers from some, jeers from others, and profanities from certain blogger friends of mine:
Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel was his usual efficient self, and sent out an email just a few hours after the official announcement letting Seminole County voters know when and where early voting would take place. (FYI, I checked with the Orange County Supervisor Bill Cowles' office today. They are meeting on Monday to finalize their plans for the presidential primary, and will let me know.)
While there has definitely been a lot of grumbling, Florida's rogue move has led some to designate us as the "new presidential kingmaker," and the St. Petersburg Times announced they would co-sponsor, along with NBC News, the National Journal, and the Florida Council of 100, another debate in Florida on January 30th.
CNN and RPOF will also sponsor a January debate in Florida (exact date to be determined soon).
On Wednesday, I posted a link to my post about the primary date debate on the Facebook wall for Speaker Dean Cannon, who is also my State Representative. Cannon replied today with this thoughtful response:
Sarah, I did read Chairman Senft's letter, have carefully considered all the potential impacts, and believe that selecting Jan 31 IS the best way to maximize Florida's "main street" voters' voices in selecting our nominee. I've made extensive comments (as have others) publicly explaining the reasons for this and won't repeat them all here, but i'll describe what happened in 2008 as the best proof that the threats of calamity in Paul's letter are unfounded. In 2008, Iowa went Jan 3, NH went Jan 8, MI on Jan 15, NV and SC on Jan19, Florida went Jan 29, and FL had huge, arguably decisive influence. Twenty six states then held their primaries the next week on Feb 5--the "super Tuesday"--and it was over. It would diminish FL voters' influence to wait til late Feb or into March, and my duty is to maximize Floridians' influence first, and be concerned with hotels and convention seating charts second.
[Can I just take a moment and mention that I think it's very cool that I can communicate with the Speaker of the Florida House on Facebook and get a response? I think it is a wonderful thing, the way this technology gives us greater access to our elected officials...at least the ones who are smart enough to use it!]
Here's the official consequences for Florida from the RNC for moving our primary earlier, from the St. Petersburg Times:
St. Petersburg Times | The Buzz Blog | RNC tells Florida: You will lose half delegates but that's only penalty
Three senior officials with the Republican National Committee spoke on background to reporters Friday about the 2012 primary calendar in light of Florida's decision to upset the apple cart. Here are some take aways:
* Florida will definitely lose half its delegates. RNC officials are firm about that. There will be no waiver or negotiations. As to whether the penalized states will be able to get floor passes for all delegates, as in 2008, RNC officials didn't know.
* Florida will only be punished once. After it loses its delegates, it won't lose anything more. (The Republican Party of Florida submitted rules on Friday to the RNC that would divide up most of the state's delegates -- estimated to be about 49 now -- to candidates based on the vote in each congressional district, with a small number going to at-large candidates, RNC spokesman Brian Hughes told the Times/Herald.)
* The decision by Florida, Arizona and Michigan to move up their primary dates will now force three of the traditionally early primary states to face penalties if it sets off a chain reaction of switches, as expected. New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada will also lose half their delegates if they move their primaries before Feb. 1. Iowa will not be punished because its does not bind its delegates to the caucus results.
*The convention will definitely remain in Tampa.