Friday, September 16, 2011

The Florida Presidential Primary is Not Currently Scheduled for January 31

One question that FHQ gets periodically is about whether Florida is or is not scheduled -- according to state election law -- on the last Tuesday in January. As has been recounted in great detail in this space over the last several months, the state legislature ceded the authority to schedule the presidential primary date to the newly created Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee (PPPDSC).

But the question remains: Is the PPPDSC making a decision to change the date from January 31 in the 2012 cycle or are they working from a blank slate (with the ability to set the date between the first Tuesday in January and the first Tuesday in March)?

Admittedly, FHQ has done a poor job of relating this to our readers as well as a broader audience, and I would like to set the record straight once and for all. The enrolled version of HB 1355 -- the bill that created the PPPDSC -- strikes the reference in the presidential primary law to the last Tuesday in January (see 103.101(1)(b) for the details). And the 2011 Florida Statutes reflect that change (see the same 103.101(1)(b) section).

In other words, the Florida primary is completely date-less at this point in the evolution of the 2012 presidential primary calendar and has been since May 19 when the bill was signed into law.  The PPPDSC will not be moving the primary back from that last Tuesday in January date. Instead, the members are charged with selecting a date in the window between January 3 and March 6 (for the 2012 cycle). Florida could still end up on January 31, but it will only be because it sees a threat to its desired fifth position from a state like Missouri -- should a move to March in the Show Me state prove impossible -- or Minnesota -- where Republican caucuses are currently scheduled for February 7.

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