THE QUESTION NOW IS...WHO'S GONNA BLINK FIRST?
As fully expected, the Legislature is sending an elections bill to Governor Crist which would move up the state's presidential preference primary to the Tuesday following New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, which means that next year our primary would be held January 29. The governor is expected to sign the measure into law within the next few days.
It will now be interesting to see what happens next. The national Republican and Democratic leadership strongly opposed the move, and had let it be known that if the Legislature moved up the primary date there would be a severe cost. Both parties have threatened to cut the state's delegation to the national conventions in half, and Democratic leaders have gone further in saying that any candidate who campaigns here would lose any delegates he/she wins here.
Florida is an important state, not only in electoral votes but in the amount of money that candidates receive here. It'll be interesting to see which candidates, if any, will ignore the national party mandate or risk the wrath of their Florida supporters. There is also the possibly that at least Democrats will schedule a seperate nominating contest later in the year, making the January primary basically a "beauty contest" which would not count in electing delegates to the convention.
Here are a few reactions:
''This moves Florida up in the picking of the next leader of the free world. It put us a place where we should have been before.''
--- Governor Charlie Crist
"Right now we don't have any delegates. We have people that get invited to a big party where they drop a balloon and people wear funny hats. The truth of the matter is the nominee of either party is going to want to make sure they have not offended the big donors and the big activists in the most important state in the country."
--- Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R - Miami)
"People thought Florida would finally be relevant in the primary, but the irony is Florida may wind up moot."
--- Will Prather of Fort Myers, a member of the Barack Obama national finance team
"We don't have any say in setting the primary schedule but we intend to compete in any state that holds a primary or caucus. "
--- Mo Elleithee, spokesperson for Hillary Rodham Clinton
"Florida will be in the driver's seat when it comes to selecting the next president...Whoever wins Florida on Jan. 29 will have tremendous momentum to take all those states on Feb. 5."
--- Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, who would actually lose his delegate seat if the GOP follows through on it's threat.
''It's going to be a tight race, and candidates are not going to spend it on a beauty contest,"
--- Fort Lauderdale attorney Mitchell Berger, a fundraiser for John Edwards