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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cracks in the early primary push



Don't bank on Florida moving its '08 presidential primary very early just yet. The Buzz is that Altamonte Springs Republican Lee Constantine, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, wants to schedule the primary for mid-February, when the presidential nominations are likely to be already set. The current proposal in the legislature calls for rescheduling Florida’s traditional March primary to Feb. 5 or one week after New Hampshire’s tentatively scheduled Jan. 22 primary, whichever is sooner.

"It’s just a question of looking at the various options and getting it done right,’’ said Constantine, who was vague about a precise proposal. "I’m looking at other options outside just Feb. 5 or one week after New Hampshire. ...There are many people who think the earlier you do it favors those who have the most money because Florida’s such a big state."

State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, is confident most senators back his bill for an earlier primary. Nor is there any indication the House leadership is backing off their enthusiasm for a very early primary. As it now stands, the nominations are likely to be locked up Feb. 5 because so many states want to hold early primaries or caucuses.

Aside from more attention on Florida, Ring offers a pragmatic reason for the earliest possible Florida primary: pressure on candidates to embrace a national catastrophic insurance fund. "This will give us the leverage that we need to get something done in Washington on that,’’’ he said. "The candidates campaigning in Florida will have to campaign on the need of a national catastrophic fund."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:33pm]


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