Republican rule breaking costly
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2012 20:01
Tomorrow's primary is going to put Florida in the national spotlight, but despite all the attention, the state's impact on the Republican Party presidential nomination may end up disappointing by the time of the Republican National Convention in August.
Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee punished Florida for breaking party rules by holding its "winner-take-all" primary before April. According to RNC rules set up in 2010, the Sunshine State should follow after states that award delegates proportionally.
The most significant penalty for holding the primary early cuts the number of delegates in half, from 99 to 50. Also, these fewer delegates that do make it to place their vote at the party's convention will face a number of other restrictions.
According to Fox News, "… the national party will make sure Florida's delegates have poor seating and poor hotel options — as in, hotels that are not close to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the convention venue."
What were state lawmakers thinking when they decided to move Florida's Republican primary to Jan. 31? They must have expected the consequences after seeing similar punishment back in 2008 for the same kind of rule-breaking.
So far in this race, Mitt Romney is leading with 33 delegates, and Newt Gingrich is in a close second with 25 after winning a majority of the delegates in South Carolina. In the recent contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, delegates are awarded proportionally based on the results from individual districts.
Fifty delegates from Florida could easily rocket tomorrow's winner way ahead of the competition going into the remaining caucuses in February and on to Super Tuesday in March. Obviously it is a big prize, but 99 would have been a lot bigger and more crucial in this heated nomination process. And now, some are saying that the winner-take-all award in this contest could be in jeopardy.
Supporters of presidential candidate Rick Santorum are hoping the state's delegates will be awarded proportionately after all, thanks to a provision in the RNC's rules that allows voters to file a challenge requesting that delegates be apportioned based on Florida's 25 Congressional districts, according to ABC News.
However, a last-minute change to the delegate allotment at the GOP national convention seems unlikely, in spite of former RNC Chairman Michael Steele arguing that the rule is clear and the award should be proportional, according to an article on Politico.
It is troubling to see yet another disputed nomination process in a state so known for hosting controversial elections. If the leading GOP candidates are only separated by a few delegates when the race reaches the national convention, Florida might look back and wish it played by the rules and had more of a say in choosing the candidate to take on President Barack Obama.