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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The Fla GOP leaders who fear early 2012 presidential primary



Imagine hosting a big, ritzy party and being told to sit in the basement as it kicked off.


That's pretty much the fear of grass-roots Florida Republican leaders as they consider repercussions for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa given legislative leaders' seeming insistence on holding Florida's presidential primary earlier than allowed. National GOP leaders punishing their most loyal foot soldiers in the state they can't afford to lose? Sounds crazy, but it absolutely could happen.

Think of Florida party activists assigned to distant hotels in north Pinellas, rather than blocks from the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa for the Aug. 27-30, 2012, event.Or the host delegation seated somewhere to the rear of Guam's delegation. Or Floridians getting fewer floor passes than Republicans from Oregon. Almost certainly, Florida's delegation would be lopped in half, from about 116 delegates to 58.

"The Legislature is going do what they want to do, and they're going to do what they deem best for themselves. But for the party's rank and file, we work very hard for a chance to go to the convention," said Pinellas State Committeeman Tony DiMatteo, who noted that the biggest perk for local party leaders is picking convention delegates. "There are going to be a lot of disappointed Florida Republicans if we lose half our delegates."

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[Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2011 7:51pm]


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