Gov. Rick Scott leans toward early Florida primary

Gov. Rick Scott has been clear about when he wants Florida's presidential primary: as early as possible without violating the Republican National Committee calendar and losing delegates to the convention in Tampa next year.

But as the state's presidential primary committee prepares to pick a date, Scott seems to be leaning more toward an early primary.

"We are, if you add up all the delegates and the number of people that live in these states — the four states before us, we're still larger," Scott told reporters Monday. "We should be early and we shouldn't lose our delegates."

State Sen. John Thrasher, a Jacksonville Republican on the selection committee who is supporting Mitt Romney, said Florida's election should immediately follow South Carolina.

"I want to be right after South Carolina, whether it's two days or three days or four days. If they do it on a Saturday, we should be the following Tuesday," Thrasher said. "I think that's where everybody is."

The South Carolina election is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28. But that date is expected to change after Arizona moved its primary to the same day. RNC rules carry penalties for any state party (aside from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) that holds a primary before March 6.

A nine-member committee named last week will set the date of Florida's 2012 presidential primary. It will hold its first meeting Friday in Tallahassee. The committee is required to set a date by Oct. 1.

On Perry's team

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry on Tuesday announced his leadership team for Presidency 5 this week, tapping Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon as chairman.

"Gov. Perry knows that the path to the nomination and eventually the White House goes through Florida," said Cannon. "He also knows how critical it is for Florida's grass roots leaders to get a chance to know the candidates early, which is why he is focused on this state and participating in Presidency 5."

In addition to Cannon, conservative activists John Stemberger and Pam Olsen will co-chair the team. Stemberger is president of the Florida Family Policy Council. Olsen is the founder and president of the Florida Prayer Network. Also serving as co-chairmen are Pasco County Republican Bill Bunting, a leader in the effort to protect the Second Amendment, and Orange County Republican activist Lew Oliver. Dr. A.K. Desai, CEO of Universal Health Care Group Inc., will also co-chair the group and help recruit delegates.

Texas Gov. Perry also announced the following elected officials to serve as co-chairmen: Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Crestview, state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, state Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo and Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan.

Gov. Rick Scott leans toward early Florida primary 09/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 9:15pm]

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