Under fire from other states for refusing to move the state’s primary date, Florida lawmakers are kicking the can down the road. On a conference call Wednesday, Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon (R) announced that he plans to propose a committee to deal with the conflict.
Iowa and New Hampshire recently asked the Republican National Committee to consider moving the party’s convention out of Florida because the state refuses to move its January 31st primary. Under RNC rules, Florida is not supposed to have a primary before March 1st.
Florida’s legislative session ends May 6. Cannon said the legislation, which he will put forward tomorrow, will add “flexibility” to the process. This way, he said, Florida Republicans can work with other states on its calendar without forcing legislators to attend a special summer session.
The bipartisan "presidential preference primary date selection committee" would be asked to make a decision by October on a primary date within the window of the first Tuesday in January and the first Tuesday in March. The panel would be made up of ten appointees — three picked by the House Speaker, three by the Senate President and three by governor, along with the secretary of state as a non-voting chair.
Where the state lawmakers are not backing down is their conviction that Florida should be early. “We belong early in that conversation, because the path to the White House has to go through Florida,” Cannon said.
“My sense is that the state wants to cooperate as much as it can with the RNC, but it doesn’t want to officially announce a date that is so late in the process that other states may be tempted to jump in ahead of Florida,” said former state party chairman Al Cardenas. The goal, he said, is to be fifth behind Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.