A long, long time ago, the wise oracles who keep the celestial firmament in perfect balance decided that the presidential primary season would begin in Iowa and New Hampshire, and later, South Carolina, in accordance with ancient Masonic prophesies. Most of the people who don’t live in those states do not like this arrangement very much, because the way it assigns a disproportionate influence on voters who pick their presidents based on how hard they pander to ethanol interests and how well they flip pancakes. And lately, other states have been bucking to get to the front of the line, so they can feel awesome about themselves too.
One such state is Florida, whose state legislature passed a law in 2007 that required their state's primary be held on the last Tuesday in January. In 2008, the Florida Democratic Party moved up their primary in defiance of the Illuminati and, for a time, were sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee by agreeing to have the state’s delegates discounted.
Flash-forward to today, and Florida is at it again, throwing the Republican National Committee's carefully crafted primary calendar -- which allowed February primaries for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada and scheduled everyone else for March or later -- into disarray by insisting on having their primary in January. This has really cheesed South Carolina off, because the state takes pride in the fact that it gets to hold the first presidential primary in a southern state.
And if you're South Carolina, you worry that if Florida gets away with their plan, other states will start defying the set calendar as well, and then, who knows what would happen? On the one hand, maybe nothing. But on the other hand, maybe it sparks a "race to the front" and suddenly the Iowa caucuses are on Labor Day, or something painful like that. So South Carolina Republican Party Chair Karen Floyd is attacking Florida's decision, and threatening to lobby for something of a nuclear option: strip Florida of their status as hosts of the Republican National Convention:
I give Chairman Reince Priebus great credit for having already stated definitively that the penalties for violating rule 15(b) will be enforced on any state that acts outside the RNC primary calendar, including Florida. Chairman Priebus is also on record as stating that the consequences for states could extend beyond the loss of 50 percent of their delegates, to penalties such as loss of guest passes, hotel location, and floor location.
That being said, based upon the totality of the public statements from Florida's legislative leaders, it is my fear that these sanctions may not be enough to dissuade Florida from the path that they are on. Recently, some legislative leaders in Florida have even floated the idea of a "compromise" by which they would hold their primary in mid-February rather than late-January, an idea that should be unacceptable on its face. One should not get credit for breaking the rules "less" - if Florida holds its contest any time before March, the penalties should still be the same.
This brings me to my purpose for writing you all today:
Simply put, if Florida does not respect the process by which our primary calendar was set, the RNC should not be bound to the process by which the convention site was selected.
If Florida refuses to move its primary date into compliance with RNC rules, I am respectfully requesting that the Committee convene a special task force to select a new site for the 2012 Convention outside the state of Florida.
The Washington Post reports that Floyd's counterpart in Iowa, Matt Strawn, has signed on in support of the idea that "the process to select the site of the 2012 RNC Convention" be "re-opened,"
Will anything come of this? Probably not, actually. Tampa -- known as the "cradle of death metal" -- was announced as the site of the convention back in the summer of 2010, and they've already selected a venue: the St. Pete Times Forum (home of the Tampa Bay Lightning).
Perhaps more importantly, if you browse the convention's website, you'll see that they are already assembling "vendor/suppliers," which means the Committee is probably well down the road in terms of signing contracts. Additionally, Jack Kimball, the chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, doesn't seem too bullish on the idea of relocating the convention from Tampa, saying: "The suggestions that the convention may be moved from Tampa, or that their delegates won't be counted - I'm sure none of that will come to pass."