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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jim Greer: GOP leaders should put voters ahead of RNC on primary date



With state leaders days after from picking Florida's presidential primary date, former state GOP chairman Jim Greer weighs in:


Much attention is being given in the upcoming decision which will set the date for the Presidential primary in Florida and once again the discussion centers around the Republican National Committee's rules detailing the dates and schedule for when States may hold their primary.  By now many people understand that the RNC has rules which only allow states such as Iowa, South Carolina and a few others to hold their Presidential primary before the first week of March. 

As Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida in 2008 I dealt firsthand with this issue and learned a great deal about the rules of the RNC and how they are draconian in many ways and exist to benefit a small group of States who make the most noise but don't carry the same importance that Florida does when it comes to electing the President.  When you get past all of the political rhetoric, threats of puntive action by the RNC and the behind the scenes negotiations that take place, the real issue is that the National Convention's are now more of an annointing than an event that selects the Nominee. 

Therefore, penalizing states like Florida and reducing the number of voting delegates is really insignificant when it comes to placing the State in a primary schedule where the decision of Floridian's will have great impact on who the Party's Nominee will be.  In 2008 I had many public and private meetings with RNC officials and in one case I told the RNC that they seemed more interested in enforcing a rule than in winning the White House. 

Very much to my surprise some of my colleagues on the RNC Rules Committee responded that enforcement of the rule is the #1 priority, even if it costs us the election.I also met with all of the Presidental Candidates seeking their committment in not penalizing Florida.  This also brought to a head the tension that exists between the Nomineee and the RNC as to who really runs the convention. Whispers of don't worry Chairman, wer're going to take care of Florida were common, however the RNC had a very different view.

Many know I was successful in getting all Florda delegates seated, but with half receivng the title of honored guests and the other half actually casting a vote. This allowed Florida to tak a full delegation to the convention and what did it really matter if our number of votes were reduced when the nominee, John McCain, had already gathered enough momentum and committments to become the nominee.  The National Convention has just really become as big party for grassroots activist and major donors as well as an oppportunity for the Nominee to showcase his campaign and running mate. 

As in 2008, Florida will play a very important role in 2012 and our legislative leaders should put the voters of Florida first and send a strong message to both political parties that punishing states for wanting to influence the Presidential nomination process will conitnue until the National Convention's actually deliberate and choose a Party's nominee or an early State primary rotation schedule is established where every state gets a shot at being first. 

If the RNC wants to play hardball with Florida, Florida should step up and play the game. Remember the Democratic Party was smart enought to know that alienating Florida was not a wise move and they rescinded their sanctions shortly before the 2008 convention and sat all of the delegates to the DNC's convention.  As I did in 2008, the three RNC members from Floriida should work to find a mutually acceptable solution, but in the end, nobody gets to the White House without winnng the State of Florida and the RNC may need to be reminded of that.

[Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2011 8:44am]


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