Florida moves primary to January, upsets primacy of Iowa and new Hampshire
It’s a done deal. A special committee in Florida has decided that the state’s presidential primary will be held on Jan. 31, 2012 — a violation of the national nomination calendar and a sure bet that Iowans will caucus earlier than Feb. 6.
Officials from the four states sanctioned to begin the nominating process — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — have pledged they will move forward as one to protect their status.
Although Florida had planned to move forward in an attempt to thwart Missouri from holding an earlier contest, Mizzou Republicans decided Thursday to switch to a caucus system that allowed them to remain within the national calendar boundaries.
And, not everyone in the Florida GOP is celebrating the move. Politico’s Reid Epstein reports Paul Senft, one of three from the state on the Republican National Committee, emailed a message of sorrow to early state officials.
Sharon and I are embarrassed and do apologize. Chairman Bitner had a compromise worked out, but it disappeared when he passed away. … I will vote for and support the penalties because we deserve them because of what the legislators are doing. Please tell your folks that we have tried.”
As Epstein notes, David Bitner died earlier this month following health battles.
Chad Connelly, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, nearly immediately issued a statement, which noted in part, that the disappointing move could have been avoided.
“Rogue states have once again dictated the Presidential nominating calendar,” he said. “I call on my fellow RNC members and all Republicans to strongly condemn Florida’s decision to hold their primary on January 31.
“States who have worked so hard to maintain the nominating calendar should not be penalized and the offenders, including Florida, should lose their entire allocations of delegates at the National Convention. Rules matter and the four traditional early states … did everything they could to avoid this unfortunate situation.”
He closed by saying that South Carolina’s primary date will not be announced today. The deadline for state parties to have their intentions to the RNC is Oct. 1.
Although there has not yet been an immediate, formal reaction from Iowa officials, there is little doubt that one will be forthcoming.