Friday, September 23, 2011

Calendar Correction Corner: Florida -- Not Surprisingly -- Will Wait as Long as It Can Before Deciding on a Presidential Primary Date

The reporting today surrounding the Florida Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee's (PPPDSC) first meeting has been all over the place and not in a good way. There have been a couple of vague reports that the date would be finalized at the meeting today. Neither article mentioned that it has been known since last week when the committee members were named that a second meeting was already scheduled for next Friday -- the day prior to the deadline by which a date decision must be made.  If that reality wasn't enough, the news that the committee has decided to wait it out as long as it can following the meeting today should make it clearer.

But even that Central Florida Political Pulse post (linked above) is misleading.

On Missouri:
Missouri — itself a self-proclaimed bellwether state for presidential contests — has also upended the traditional primary apple-cart by setting its primary date for Feb. 7 next year.
Signs are ominous out of Jefferson City, but there is still a state Senate session scheduled for today and the March presidential primary bill is on the calendar. The Missouri Senate may opt to adjourn the special session and in the process kill the presidential primary legislation, but we won't know that until later. In other words, the Missouri primary date should not be discussed in the past tense. ...unless there's something else to report. [NOTE: Just between you, me and the wall: FHQ is getting a fair amount of sustained traffic out of Jefferson City today. Present tense. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.]

On waiting to the last minute:
On Friday, the Florida’s Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee held its first meeting — but opted to wait until the last possible moment next week to make a decision because South Carolina hasn’t yet set a date. Florida has to report its date to the political parties by Oct. 1, next Saturday. That primary date could fall on February 14 or 21, or even earlier depending on when South Carolina votes.
FHQ has absolutely no problem with this until that last phrase. Is there ANY indication that the South Carolina Republican Party is going to settle on a date in the next week? Not that I have seen. And that makes this statement from one member of the PPPDSC harder to stomach:
“I have no problem moving it up as long as we know where everybody else is,” said Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami.
There is a sequence to this and Florida is not going to have the benefit of knowing the dates on which at least the first four states will hold their primaries and caucuses if not a few others. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are waiting on Florida, not the other way around. Iowa is waiting on New Hampshire is waiting on Nevada is waiting on South Carolina is waiting on Florida is waiting on...

...well, it isn't South Carolina. As FHQ tweeted this morning, look to South Carolina and Florida to determine whether Colorado potentially holding February 7 caucuses will impact the schedule. If that is a problem to Florida and/or South Carolina, then they will jump Colorado and Minnesota. That will, in turn, impact the other early states. But the bottom line is that this works sequentially with Iowa or New Hampshire making the final move. [NOTE: Georgia's decision looms over this as well. The secretary of state there has until December 1 to choose a date for the primary in the Peach state.]

One more and then I'll stop. Here's a quote from PPPDSC member and former Florida Governor Bob Martinez from Central Florida News that follows a host of recent misleading headlines and articles about the primary calendar.
"Arizona has changed its date officially, Michigan is doing the same and so is Missouri. So there's a little bit of movement out there before we choose a date,'' Martinez said. 
This is a real pet peeve of mine right now. Neither Arizona, Michigan, nor potentially Missouri have  changed (or potentially changed) their respective presidential primary dates. In each case, those states have merely maintained the dates that have been on the books since the 2008 cycle. Look at the original 2012 presidential primary calendar FHQ put together in December 2008. There are Arizona and Michigan on February 28 and there's Missouri on February 7. No movement. Now, there has been talk and some action toward moving those states' primaries in some various ways, but it has amounted to nothing. What has happened is that everyone else has moved away from the February dates that were allowed by the party rules in 2008 and are not in 2012. There's no jumping, leapfrogging, or any other type of movement going on in any of those three states -- at least not relative to 2008.

With Florida -- again, not surprisingly -- punting until next week, shift your focus to Missouri and Colorado for the time being.

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