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Politics

Dean Cannon Unconcerned About Early Primary Backlash

September 28, 2011 - 6:00pm

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon brushed off concerns Thursday from fellow Republicans that his desire for a Jan. 31 primary date will harm the state.

Meanwhile, Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, called Floridas demand to be among the first five primary dates like "a child throwing a tantrum because she isnt getting her way.

The case has not been made for how Florida would benefit by moving the primary from early March to late January, Dockery stated in a release. In fact, Florida would benefit more by having a full slate of delegates for abiding by the rules, for continuing to have all of the candidates visit our state and spend money in our state over a longer period of time, and for not setting off the domino effect among other states all wanting to follow suit and jump their place in line.

Dean dismissed such concerns, saying being fifth on the primary calendar maximizes Floridas voice in the nomination process.

I think most of the people saying those things are people who might not have their seat on the floor and that is what theyre worried about, Dean said.

Floridas Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee is set to select a primary date beginning at 11 a.m. Friday.

Florida lawmakers have been unconcerned that the potential consequence of having an early date is that half the state's delegates would be barred from the national nominating convention.

Cannon noted that in 2008, Floridas primary was held Jan. 31 and the GOP winner, Sen. John McCain, was the eventual party candidate. Also, while the delegation was cut in half at first, the full delegation was eventually seated at the convention.

The GOP's 2012 convention will be held in Tampa.

Cannon said Florida has no intention of preceding Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which have been designated the first four primary and caucus states by both national parties.

Our hope is they follow a similar schedule to what they did in '08, Dean said. "My job is to protect Florida and Floridians first and worry about RNC rules second."

Republican leadership in each early state has openly complained about Floridas planned move, which will require those states to move up their primaries and caucus, shifting candidate-campaigning into the winter holiday season.

Cannon said he hopes that in the future the RNC considers Florida to be permanently fifth on the primary roster because of its economic strength, ethnic diversity and overall size.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-085.

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