Deadline Here for Florida's 'P5' Straw Poll Delegates
Road to Presidency 5 conference in Orlando begins at county caucuses
Around the State
Registration for Florida's GOP presidential straw poll closes Friday.
As of Thursday, more than 4,000 state Republicans had applied for 3,100 delegate positions at the three-day "Presidency 5" event. Delegates will cast ballots in the straw poll set for Sept. 24 in Orlando.
The Republican Party of Florida says the poll -- scheduled three months before the country's first primaries and caucuses -- will be crucial to setting the pecking order in the crowded 2012 presidential field.
"You have to win Florida to win the presidency," said Trey Stapleton, spokesman for the RPOF.
The national spotlight will be on Presidency 5 and the Orange County Convention Center, and Florida Republicans who want to attend must get their online applications in by midnight Friday.
Stapleton said interest is running "way ahead" of the four previous Presidency conclaves that began back in 1979.
Compared to the modest gathering expected at the Florida Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Hollywood this weekend, the RPOF's Presidency 5 is a big deal -- as its detailed selection and security arrangements indicate.
Whereas JJ diners will shell out $180 a seat (except for the freebies handed out this week) to hear Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a middling star in the Democratic Party constellation, all major GOP presidential hopefuls are expected to light up P5 in Orlando this fall.
For the national audience, Fox News plans to air a candidate debate from the Convention Center on Thursday night, Sept. 22.
Discussions also are said to be under way for a CPAC event on Friday leading up to Saturday's straw poll.
Although none of the top-tier candidates have yet committed to attend P5, Stapleton noted that it's still early.
"I don't see how the candidates won't show up," he said. (Late Thursday, however, Mitt Romney's campaign announced that he would bypass the Florida poll.)
"It seems like Obama is not paying attention to the state," he said.
The P5 delegate selection process begins almost immediately, with county caucuses convening between June 15 and Aug. 1. Those caucuses will select 75 percent of their delegates through a random draw. The remaining 25 percent of delegate seats are assigned to local party leaders.
By Aug. 15, each county party organization -- whose delegates are allocated in proportion of party registration -- must file with the state party its certified list of delegates, including dates of birth, all ballot security cards, a list of alternates and all checks [$175 per delegate].
RPOF requires that "all information must be returned in a manner that can be 'traced' -- e.g., certified mail, Federal Express, etc."
To adjudicate any challenges to seating, RPOF Chairman David Bitner appointed a five-member P5 Credentials Committee.
"Any challenge of delegates or alternates, for any reason except whether an alternate has properly been moved into a delegate position, must be filed in writing and must be received by RPOF headquarters by Aug. 15 for subsequent consideration by the P5 Credentials Committee," the party rules state.
"The challenge must set forth the reason or reasons why the delegates or alternates are claimed to be ineligible to be seated. Action of the P5 Credentials Committee will be considered as final with no appeal to the full convention."
Though a "limited number" of guest passes are available for $100, RPOF recommends that "anyone wishing to participate to go through the delegate selection process in order to guarantee a spot at Presidency 5."
That goes for spouses, too.
A RPOF fact sheet states: "If your spouse is interested in attending Presidency 5, it is highly recommended that they apply to become a delegate and participate in the county caucus."
To tally the straw ballots at P5's poll on Sept. 24, Bitner named a P5 Tellers Committee.
Bitner's office said the names of the tellers and credential committee members will be announced in the next week.
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or (772) 801-5341.