Florida Presidential Primary To Move up? by Mitch E. Perry12/12/06
On a local public affairs show broadcast over the weekend, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean warned that if Florida moved its presidential primary before February 5th, Florida Democrats could lose delegates, and any candidate who campaigns in the Sunshine State would have to forfeit delegates.
But both Democratic and Republican officials say that if Florida does move up its primary from its current March date, it would take place on February 5th, 2008, at the earliest.
Thatâ€™s what GOP State Representative David Rivera has said. Rivera was recently named by House Speaker Marco Rubio to lead the stateâ€™s Rules and Calendar Council. Political analyst Darrell Paulson says this isnâ€™t the first time that state officials have tried to have Floridaâ€™s Primary more relevant to who the country selects as its partyâ€™s nominees (roll tape#1 o.q.â€?")
The Iowa Caucusas in late January, followed the next week by the New Hampshire Primary, have opened the Presidential Primary calendar for decades. Although thereâ€™s been much criticism having an inordinate amount of power, the calendar has not really been changed.
However, the Democrats announced in August that they were going to wedge in Nevada in between Iowa and New Hampshire, with South Carolina shortly thereafter in 2008.
The move is intended to give greater voice to Latinos and Blacks in the election process. But the altered schedule poses risks. New Hampshire is threatening to ignore the committeeâ€™s plan by moving its primary even earlier, despite the Democratic Party would punish candidates who campaign in states with schedules that violate Partyâ€™s rules.
Aubrey Jewett is a professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida. He says that an argument for diluting Iowa and New Hampshireâ€™s influence is that â€“ opposed to Florida â€“those states donâ€™t really represent America in 2006 (roll tape#2o.q. â€œweâ€™re just too dang bigâ€?)
The move to push Floridaâ€™s March Primary to February is being led by top state officials â€“ Governor Charlie Crist and Senate President Ken Pruitt â€“both Republicans.
Democrats say they on board for an earlier contest, but according to Allan Katz, a Tallahassee City Commissioner who serves on the Democratic National Comittteeâ€™s rules and bylaws committee, when Nevada and South Carolina were awarded their earlier placements in the Presidential Primary season, Florida Democrats chose not to compete (roll tape#3 o.q.â€?didnâ€™t happenâ€?)
WMNF called the Florida Democratic Party for comment regarding their lack of interest in bidding for an earlier primary. We did not receive a callback by air time. Florida is not the only big state vying to move up in the Presidential calendar to have more influence on who the nominees will be in 2008.
California and Michigan are also vying to move up as well. DNC member Allan Katz says he feels the Party has already done its job of broadening the presidential field (roll tape#4 o.q.â€? the candidates betterâ€?)
Up until recently, Iowa and New Hampshire were key states, but certainly not deciding onesâ€¦But presidential campaigns now begin much earlier than they used to, and in 2004, John Kerryâ€™s upset victory over Howard Dean seemed to be the beginning and the end of the nominating process.
And University of Central Florida Political Science Professor Aubrey Jewett says there are some old â€“school parts of politics that makes Iowa and New Hampshire still relevant roll tape#4 o.q.â€?baptism by fireâ€?)
The Florida Republican Party is also contemplating a non-binding straw poll convention at some point next year. The Democrats do not have any such plans.