Smart move on ending Florida's early presidential primary

May 11, 2013 

One very important political decision occurred on the final day of the Legislature's 2013 regular session, thanks to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's persuasive skills. Florida's early presidential primary has been removed from the calendar as an amendment to election reform legislation.

With little fanfare and discussion, the primary change puts Florida back on track to be a major player in both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions. Both state parties suffered steep penalties at the 2012 conventions because Florida broke national party rules by scheduling an early primary and faced similar fates in 2016.

New stricter GOP rules would have slashed the Florida delegation from 99 members to a mere 12 in the next presidential race -- which could feature none other than Marco Rubio. The state's GOP-controlled Legislature could not stomach such a severe loss of influence.

State Democrats had it worse, facing the rejection of its entire delegation.

With an early March 2016 primary, Florida's political parties will not be crippled again. The amendment's language dictates compliance, setting the primary on the first Tuesday that rules allow without penalty.

The Legislature intended to leverage greater national influence in presidential politics with an early primary, but that boomeranged as the national parties clamped down with on wayward state parties.

The parties should be pleased that all delegates will be seated in 2016.

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