Florida Faces Protests Over Early Primary Date | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Florida Faces Protests Over Early Primary Date

Play associated audio

This December, along with the holidays, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire can also look forward to lots of visits from presidential candidates. The primary calendar now looks like it will start early in January—first with the Iowa caucuses, followed closely by New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and then, by month's end, Florida.

On Friday, officials in the Sunshine State announced they were scheduling their presidential primary on Jan. 31 — breaking party rules and forcing four other states to move up even earlier to maintain their places in the batting order.

Under Republican Party rules, only four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — are allowed to hold presidential nominating contests before March 6.

Tell that to Florida — a megastate that has agitated for years to be more important in the primary season.

A special state commission met Friday and decided—for the second presidential cycle in a row — that Florida would flout the rules. State Sen. John Thrasher, a Republican, said in choosing Jan. 31, Florida is showing respect to the four traditional early states.

"Florida has more voters than all of those other states combined," Thrasher said. "And it has an incredible amount of diversity. It is a reflection, I think, of the national interest. And Florida, because of that, ought to be an early state."

Other States Cry Foul

That might be how it looks in Florida. But other states—jealously guarding their early positions—see it differently. Iowa's Republican Party chairman called Florida leaders arrogant.

In South Carolina, the Republican chairman described Florida as a "rogue state" that should lose all of its delegates at next year's national convention.

The executive director of South Carolina's GOP, Matt Moore said his state will now have to move up its primary into January — and he is not happy about it.

"A compressed calendar in January really hurts candidates, it hurts voters," Moore said. "For the Republican Party, this election is important to get wrong. And we want to pick the best candidates. And a calendar that makes sense would really go a long way to doing that."

When Florida jumped the line four years ago, both parties imposed penalties. This time, with President Obama likely running unopposed, there won't be a Democratic primary. That makes this a Republican-only dilemma.

Biden: Florida Too Big To Ignore

But that hasn't stopped Vice President Joe Biden from weighing in. In an interview this week on NPR member station WLRN in Miami, Biden said Florida was right to go early.

"Anybody who thinks they can walk away from Florida and get elected president, anybody who thinks they can walk away from Florida and be held harmless in the nominating process, I think is making a gigantic mistake in either of our parties," Biden said.

Florida Republican leaders agree. Four years ago, Florida's primary helped seal the nomination for Sen. John McCain. The state was penalized half of its votes at the convention, but in the end, the party seated all the state's delegates. That's the outcome Florida Republicans are betting on again this time.

The Republican National Committee will now have to negotiate with the four traditional early voting states before it can finalize the primary calendar.

As in 2008, Iowa now looks likely to hold its caucuses in the first or second week of January.

In New Hampshire, the secretary of state announced that the filing period for presidential candidates in his state would commence two weeks from Monday. And he said he couldn't rule out holding his state's primary as early as December.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 1, 2015

You can check out work by local women artists or see a comedy about how one woman’s midlife crisis affects those around her.

WAMU 88.5

Food Packaging & Pricing

Have you ever popped open a bag of potato chips only to be disappointed by the number of crisps in your bag? It's not just you. To avoid raising prices, companies often increase their "nonfunctional slack fill" or the difference between the volume of product and its container. We talk about how food packaging affects your recipe and wallet.

WAMU 88.5

Environmental Outlook: The Growing Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

A look at the growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

NPR

USA's 'Mr. Robot,' HBO's 'Ballers' Among Picks For Best Summer TV Series

A flood of some 120 series, both new and returning, are coming to TV sets this summer. So, how to choose which ones to binge-watch by the pool? Our TV critic picks his four favorite new shows.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.