Among his 100 ideas, Floria House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Miami) wants to move up Florida’s presidential preference primary – to the first Tuesday in February or one-week after the New Hampshire Primary, whichever comes first. He is having Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami) run the bill for him.
The problem? Florida is not alone.
By February 5, 2008, as many as 26 states could have held presidential primaries. Twenty-six. Alabama. Arkansas. Arizona. California. Colorado. Delaware. Florida. Idaho. Illinois. Iowa. Michigan. Missouri. Montana. Nevada. New Hampshire. New Jersey. New Mexico. North Carolina. North Dakota. Oklahoma. South Carolina. South Dakota. Utah. Texas. West Virginia. Wyoming. More than half the states, and 2/3rds of the population. Super Duper Tuesday indeed.
What does that mean? Well, it certainly diminishes the importance of any one of them — and improving the importance of Florida is the reason for moving up the primary. It could very well be moot.
It also means that only the well-financed and high-profile candidates can compete. Clinton. Edwards. Obama. McCain. Giuliani. Romney. Everyone else can pretty much pack their bags now.
The competition various states are showing will effectively create a national primary. Smaller states can be ignored again. Candidates can concentrate on a few states and play spoiler. The candidates will be airing attack ads before Christmas. It is even possible that no candidate in either party will win enough delegates to secure the nomination. Could you imagine if both parties had convention floor fights? Oooh that would too much fun.
Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.
Next year, under the current schedule, the bill would put the Sunshine State primary on Jan. 29, which would not automatically force a move by New Hampshire. But the Florida plan doesn’t sit well with the South Carolina Republican Party, which is determined that its primary be the first in the South. It is a party-run rather than state-run process, and the GOP chairman has the flexibility to set or move its date. A spokesman for the state party said last week that the chairman anticipates making the scheduling decision in September.
To make good on its pledge of being first in the South, the Palmetto State GOP would have to move ahead of Florida, meaning that its date could be seen as a trigger to the New Hampshire requirement that its primary take place seven days before any other.
Something has to give. The dictates of the two state laws and the South Carolina vow can’t all be reconciled. A move by New Hampshire would trigger a move by Florida, which would in turn prompt a move by the South Carolina Republicans.
It really is a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
Now consider that the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee can completely ignore the results. They have the power to say which games are official an which are now – much the same way that the Florida Gators’ victory over Ohio State was not officially sactioned by the NCAA.
As a Florida voter and politico, I would love to be in a state that actually matters in the presidential selection process. Moving our primary is the best way to do that, and I would probably agree with the Tallahassee Sentinel on this subject. Alas, I can not.
All 50 states can not act independently on this.
The best solution I have seen was proposed by the National Association of Secretaries of State: a rotating series of four regional primaries, with each region having the chance to vote first every four cycles. Rob at Interstate4Jamming outlined a similar idea last month. Yet the plan was originally proposed in the 1990s. Yet here we are, facing a real potential problem with the primaries.
Florida should not move it’s primary date to try to be more important than other states. Speaker Rubio should, instead, find a way to bring the national parties to the table and work out a schedule that is fair to the voters in all states.
Otherwise, our selfishness only adds to the problem.