When the Republican members of the Florida legislature began seriously contemplating moving the state’s primary up in the presidential election process they had two goals in mind. One was to exercise real influence across the fruited plain by playing kingmaker in the momentum game just before the all important Super Tuesday. The second, and more self-serving motive, was to bring the candidates into the Sunshine State early and often to extract important commitments of support for some of the state’s most pressing and expensive needs.
It is worth noting at the outset that for all the flogging Florida Democrats have received at the hands of DNC Chairman Howard Dean and others, they had no role to play in the legislature’s decision to move up the primary, as they are a minority party in both legislative chambers.
But an early and unexpected victory for the move by Republicans surfaced when the party of “every vote must count!” suddenly found itself having scant regard for that noble position. In our “chad” state that was so evenly divided the last go ’round, why would one even take the slightest chance of alienating any of their loyal foot soldiers by taking away their vote?
By forcing the forfeiture of all the Democrat’s delegates, they gave the Republicans the gift that keeps on giving—and the Dems are not happy campers. County elections officials are reporting that large numbers have switched from of their Democratic Party affiliation. Many, indeed, want their vote to count.
In a last minute move by one of only two statewide elected Democrats, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink took her case to national party officials, asking them to lift the embargo forbidding their candidates from campaigning here. Even she admitted in a press release that the boycott only amounted to giving the Republicans a head start in the general election. Little does she know it is much more than that. Resentment provides a growing opportunity for Republicans.
So, how well is the country’s 4th largest state with 57 delegates at stake (half of our initial 114) in a winner-take-all primary, positioned to achieve our ultimate goal?
With just days remaining the pundits say it is looking like a very tight two-way race, with McCain and Romney in a statistical dead heat. The winner could well be catapulted into a significant lead going into Super Tuesday.