Monday, May 07, 2007


Lakeland Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty has some strong words about threats by the national leadership of both major political parties to punish Florida after the Legislature voted last week to move our presidential preference primary to January 29.

He had interviewed former Polk County Commissioner Paul Senft, the state GOP's national committeeman, who noted the advantages of moving the primary by focusing on Florida's diversity and the fact that candidates and the media would have a better idea of how a broader spectrum of voters feel.

Rufty wrote:

"...both parties are very much tied to the old ways and traditions of doing party politics and vowed to punish any state that moved its primary to a date before Feb. 5.

"Both parties want to protect the importance of the teeny little caucus in Iowa and the equally teeny, tiny and homogenous vote in the New Hampshire primaries, traditionally the first states to select convention delegates for both parties. As such, they receive lots of attention from candidates who will forget them during the fall campaigns because they are so small in the number of voters.

"Old ways die hard.

"Still, Florida's position as one of the most populous states and a swing state will make its Jan. 29 primary one of the most pivotal in the nation. Who cares that the presidential candidates will have to change strategy?"

And at the end of the piece, Rufty noted:

"So what if Florida and South Carolina and maybe another state or two get penalized in 2008 for dragging the antiquated primary system into the open for all to view? Just remember, if the Republican and Democratic nominees win because of the head start they got from Florida, well, they get to choose their parties' new national chairmen.

"And the clowns of the national parties trying to hold on to the 19th century ways just might find themselves looking for a new position in the Flat Earth Society."


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