Fla. Defies Party And Tradition, Sets Primary For Jan. 31

Florida has defied Republican party rules and traditions, setting its presidential primary date for Jan. 31, 2012.
by | September 30, 2011

They did it. Florida has set its presidential primary for Jan. 31, 2012, possibly upsetting the longstanding tradition of four states that have customarily held the early nominating contests, the Associated Press reports.

A special nine-member committee, appointed by state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott, approved the date on Friday. Officials in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina told the AP they would probably push their primary dates ahead of Florida's.

Florida's decision violates Republican and Democratic party rules, which mandate that the four early states are the only ones to hold their primaries before March 6, according to the news agency.

"We're the biggest swing state in the union," Republican former Gov. Bob Martinez, a member of the selection panel, told the AP. "Texas is red, New York is blue, California's blue, and we're 10 electoral votes greater than Ohio. So I think this is a real, real election in Florida."

Officials from the four authorized early states expressed disdain for Florida's actions, pledging to reshuffle their own elections to maintain the traditional order.

"The arrogance shown by Florida's elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising," Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner told the AP his state could hold its primary as early as December to preserve its spot as one of the earliest nominating states.

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