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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

RPOF passes ballot qualification requirements



The Republican Party of Florida on Friday approved a rule that party leaders say will force presidential candidates to be on the ground in the state before their names are on the ballot.

In a 35-1 vote, the party's executive committee approved ballot requirements, giving candidates three options: Attend a "Sunshine Summit" event Nov. 13-14 in Orlando; pay a $25,000 fee to RPOF; or obtain signatures from 3,375 registered Republican voters, including 125 from each of the state's 27 congressional delegations.

RPOF spokesman Wadi Gaitan would not release the name of the lone dissenting vote on the executive committee, writing in an email that "similar to the executive board meetings, the list of votes are not going to beopen to the press."

Several board members released written public statements of support, however, including Sharon Day, RPOF national committeewoman and executive board member, and Blaise Ingoglia, the first-term state representative who was elected party chairman early this year.

“This historic vote will increase the incentive for candidates to engage and motivate the grassroots for 2016,” said Day.

These requirements have been rife with compromise.

Until Thursday, RPOF was moving forward with plans to require any presidential candidate who wanted his or her name on the March primary ballot to show up in Orlando for the summit. This drew harsh criticism from party elders and candidates, including Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.

Although the new rules give more options to candidates, they still mark a significant shift in RPOF. In Florida, the party committees control who is on the presidential preference primary ballot, and until now, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have historically had any qualification requirements.


[Last modified: Friday, September 25, 2015 12:44pm]


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