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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cannon wants committee to pick primary date



House Speaker Dean Cannon just outlined a proposal to create a 10-member committee to study the best time for a presidential primary. The primary would have to be between the first Tuesday in January and first Tuesday in March in 2012 and subsequent elections.

The date would have to be selected before Oct. 1.

Cannon noted Florida's status as the largest swing state and added, "We believe Florida should be early in the national conversation about who our next president is." But said he wanted "flexibility" and to balance interests of other states as they set their own dates as well as the Republican National Committee.

He said Senate President Mike Haridopolos supports the idea. Cannon said Florida should be early but did not insist on it being fifth, as some have done. Florida's date is currently set by law at Jan. 31, 2012.

The "presidential preference primary date selection committee" would be made up of three appointees by each the House Speaker, Senate President and governor. The Florida Secretary of State would serve as a 10th nonvoting chair. No more than two of the appointees for each leader could be from the same political party, Cannon said.

Cannon denied he was punting.

"Rather than backing down, frankly I think it's stepping up and taking a creative approach to say 'Hey our date may be earlier than Jan. 31. ... By the same token, maybe a plan gets worked out among our sister states to put it mid-February."

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 2:31pm]


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