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RNC to consider additional sanctions against Florida delegation this week

Tampa is hosting the Republican National Convention, but Florida delegates will get inconvenient hotel spots, poor seating and lose guest passes, according to proposed sanctions the national GOP will vote on this week.

The penalties, which could make for an irritating convention experience in August, are the price for moving up the presidential primary to Jan. 31, a violation of Republican National Committee rules.

A draft resolution to be taken up Wednesday by the RNC's rules committee, during the winter meeting in New Orleans, calls for hotels to be neither "favorable" nor "convenient." Florida's spot on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum would also be less than ideal.

Also, Florida Republican officials will lose the ability to dole out guest passes. Those passes will revert to the national party.

"I feel surely they are going to enforce it," said national committeeman Paul Senft of Haines City, who is on the rules committee.

A full committee vote is set for Friday.

By RNC rules, only New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada were permitted to hold elections in February. Wanting greater influence in determining the nominee, Florida moved its primary to Jan. 31, causing other states to scramble to earlier dates.

Snubbing RNC rules already has had a significant cost.

Florida's delegate count will be slashed from 99 to 50. RNC officials have indicated the state will remain winner-take-all, rather than a proportional allocation that would make the state a smaller prize for the winner.

Someone could still contest the delegate allocation, and Senft thinks there is a possibility that will happen, likely this summer.

"Not only is this our second-time violation," he said referring to a similar move in 2008, "but we are in the class with Arizona as violating two rules: one moving the date up and not being proportional."

The convention is being held at the Forum and the prime hotel spots — determined by the RNC — are obviously the closest. The likely sanctions mean delegates from Texas or Ohio or another state could be in downtown Tampa, while Florida delegates are assigned a spot farther away.

The loss of guest passes denies key Republicans in Florida the close-up access they covet, though it's likely the national GOP will spread some around.

The decision to move up Florida's primary was made by a Republican-led panel of state lawmakers over Democratic calls to set a March 6 date, Super Tuesday in 14 other states.

Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry will attend the meeting in New Orleans and argue that sanctions would hurt party activists who had no role in picking the primary date as well as set off a distracting squabble when the GOP needs to focus on defeating President Barack Obama, said state party spokesman Brian Hughes.

RNC to consider additional sanctions against Florida delegation this week 01/09/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 9, 2012 11:37pm]
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