RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson met with staff members of Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Speaker of the House Dean Cannon on Tuesday and could not come away with an end to the impasse over the Florida presidential primary timing issue. As Cannon spokeswoman Katie Betta said (via William March at the Tampa Tribune):
"No new ground was broken today. No decisions were made. It was a good conversation and we will keep the lines of communication open."
Florida Republicans have seemed and do seem firm in their assertion of Florida's position in the primary race for the Republican nomination and the general election as well. And they are seemingly willing to leverage that swing state status to secure a position among the earliest primary states (...whether South Carolina, Iowa or other states like it or not). The RNC has its hands tied on this one. There is little that can be done if Florida Republicans are willing to take the penalties for holding a primary at a time out of compliance with national party rules. [Actually Florida Republicans are daring the national party to sanction the state. The argument from Florida has been that that will only hurt Republican efforts to energize base voters in and ultimately win Florida in the general election.] The key for the RNC, as I mentioned last week, will be to either shift Florida into a late February position ahead of the earliest allowed date for non-exempt states (March 6) but after the exempt states or to ensure that the exempt states are not penalized if they have to change the dates of their delegate selection events because of the Florida legislature's inaction. That was what South Carolina was really complaining about a week ago.
This whole negotiation is set against the backdrop of the Florida legislative session which adjourns next month.