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STATE GOP LEADER BRUSHES OFF EARLY PRIMARY PENALTY

The national committee wants to limit state delegates.

The state Republican Party chairman plans to ask his executive board this weekend to ignore the punishment the national party is doling out because Florida moved up its presidential primary.

The Republican National Committee has told Florida that it will lose half its delegates. But state Chairman James Greer said he will recommend that Florida send all 114 of its delegates to the nominating convention next summer in Minneapolis.

"My position is we're not in technical violation of the rule, and I intend to fight for Florida's rights to have all 114 delegates on the convention floor," Greer said Tuesday. "Florida is too important to our national party and to the national scheme of things."

The vote will be taken Saturday morning when the Republican Party of Florida holds its quarterly board meeting in Orlando.

Florida lawmakers moved the presidential primary from March 4 to Jan. 29 to give the state more influence in selecting nominees. Greer fully supported the decision and said last spring that losing half the delegates is worth having more say in the process.

Now, however, he plans to fight the RNC, whose general chairman is Florida Sen. Mel Martinez. Greer acknowledged his decision is causing some tension.

"I recognize that Sen. Martinez has responsibilities as national chair, but I have not sought his counsel on this," Greer said.

The national committee appeared unmoved.

"The RNC rules adopted at the convention in 2004 are clear and will be applied equally to every state party," said RNC spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson.

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