David Rivera to early primary critics: Get over it
Dear Fellow State Republican Executive Committee (REC) Member:
As the original House sponsor of the 2007 law that moved Florida’s presidential primary to fifth place in January 2008, I want to commend House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Governor Rick Scott for their vision and leadership in once again assuring Florida’s rightful place in the presidential nominating process.
It is important to remind those who would question or criticize this early primary effort as to the original rationale for such a move. Placing Florida’s presidential primary fifth – respecting the role of the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – was included in then-Speaker Marco Rubio’s policy agenda, “100 Ideas for Florida’s Future”, precisely because of the growing national consensus that Florida has become a must-win proving ground for presidential candidates. Simply put, Florida is undeniably the most important swing-state in the nation; and as such should play a relevant role in testing a prospective nominee’s viability for the November general election.
To make the point as to why Florida should justifiably be placed fifth in the process once again in 2012 as in 2008, here are some indisputable facts:
1. It is indisputable that Florida is a diverse microcosm and cross-section of the nation as a whole requiring presidential candidates to appeal to a broad spectrum of constituencies and interests.
2. It is indisputable that Florida secured the GOP nomination for Senator John McCain in 2008, thus vindicating the early primary strategy irrespective of sanctions from the national political party committees such as reduced convention delegate allocations.
3. It is indisputable that what matters most in the early primary season is MOMENTUM, not delegates. That is why states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which have miniscule delegates, matter. As in 2008, Florida will provide overwhelming momentum not because of our delegate count, but because Florida’s critical role in the November election.
4. It is indisputable that national conventions have become pro forma ceremonial events where the outcome is long predetermined and where individual state delegate allocations are completely irrelevant. In other words, whether Florida has 99 delegates or 48 delegates is meaningless to the ultimate outcome.
The reality is that the rules produced by the national parties creating the current primary calendar are antiquated and irrational. Other states, Arizona and Colorado for example, have forced Florida’s hand by already piercing the pre-ordained primary schedule. Perhaps this will lead to an overdue discussion of reforming the primary schedule to allow states like Florida to have a meaningful role. As for those who are focused on delegate allocations, convention floor passes and hotel locations at next year’s GOP convention in Tampa, I have a simple suggestion: Get over it. Speaker Cannon has put it best when he stated that the issue here should be about what is best for all Floridians and not just for 99 select few individuals who get to be delegates at the Tampa convention and wear silly hats on television. No one on the planet remembers how many delegates Senator McCain won in 2008 in New Hampshire, South Carolina or Florida. All people remember is that he won those states, and particularly that he won Florida, period.
I call on all of my colleagues on the State Republican Committee to put aside parochial considerations and stand behind Speaker Cannon, President Haridopolos and Governor Scott as they endeavor to protect Florida’s interests in the presidential nominating process. If you agree that our candidate will require Florida to defeat President Obama in November, then Speaker Cannon, President Haridopolos and Governor Scott are actually protecting the nation’s interests by ensuring Florida’s relevance in selecting that candidate. Competing early in Florida will most assuredly make our eventual nominee a better and stronger candidate against Obama in November. Our Party will need just such a tested candidate to save America from the disastrous consequences of another four years of an Obama presidency. After all, defeating Obama is the goal, isn’t it?
Thank you for taking the time to consider this perspective. In the end, I hope you will agree that we should put the interests of Florida and our nation before any other interests. Placing Florida fifth in the presidential primary process will do just that.
Congressman David Rivera
Miami-Dade REC Member, District 5
Former Miami-Dade REC Chairman
Former Miami-Dade Republican State Committeeman