Republican leaders are still eager to host Florida's presidential primary election earlier than most states, but they're hoping to avoid a repeat of 2008's fiasco. Leaders plan to set the primary in early March, just days before the traditional Super Tuesday -- even if that means holding the election on a Thursday or Saturday and possibly risking the loss of half of the state delegates at the nominating convention.
In 2008, Florida held its primary January 29, which rain afoul of rules set forth by both parties. As a result, Florida's delegates were cut in half at the GOP convention, and Democratic candidates were forbidden from campaigning in the state altogether.
This year, Democrats don't have to worry about a primary, but Florida Republicans are still willing to flirt with going against the national party.
GOP rules state that only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina are allowed to hold primaries or caucuses in Feburary, and no other state is allowed to have a primary before the first Tuesday in March, traditionally "Super Tuesday." But Florida leaders want to make sure our state gets its say in just a bit earlier.
According to the St. Petersburg Times
, state Republican leaders hope to hold the election either Thursday, March 1; Friday, March 2; or Saturday, March 3. That would make Florida the fifth competition held, assuming no other states also try to bum-rush the system.
"If we do it on that Thursday [March 1] or that Saturday [March 3], that would show respect for the RNC rules and those first four historic or semihistoric early states and also... allow us to go before other states because Florida is that important,'' Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos told the St. Pete Times
National leaders aren't onboard with that plan yet.
The Republican Party rules are clear. With the exception of the four carve-out states, any state that holds a binding primary, caucus, or convention prior to March 6, 2012, will be in violation, said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.
If Florida went ahead with the plan, it could potentially again lose half its delegates, which is especially strange this year because the GOP convention will be held in Tampa.