Florida Republicans Negotiate Date for Primary

Posted March 31, 2011 at 8:12pm

The chairman of the Florida Republican Party is open to moving the date of his state’s presidential primary to fifth in the nation, he said in a statement Thursday evening.

The party had scheduled its nominating contest for Jan. 31, touching off a battle with South Carolina and Iowa, which are authorized by Republican National Committee bylaws to go first in the process, along with New Hampshire and Nevada.

Florida GOP Party Chairman Dave Bitner, Gov. Rick Scott, state Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Speaker Dean Cannon are working with the RNC “to find a primary date that both respects the calendar while preserving Florida’s role in the process,” Bitner said.

“I understand the Republican National Committee is looking to maintain an orderly primary calendar. … [The Florida Republican leaders] all agree that moving the primary into late February, making Florida fifth on the calendar, would sufficiently meet both criteria,” he added.

Bitner also made the case for giving his state an early berth, saying the “economically and financially diverse” state “provides the perfect litmus test for selecting the most viable Republican presidential nominee.”

The chairwoman of the South Carolina Republican Party asked the RNC on Thursday to punish Florida for the Jan. 31 primary by moving the 2012 Republican National Convention out of the state. But the RNC dismissed Chairwoman Karen Floyd’s suggestion, saying the convention will be held in Tampa as planned.