2016 Presidential Primary Likely To Be March 15
By Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida // March 3, 2015
unanimously approved backing up primarys
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – It’s probably safe to start planning for a March 15 presidential primary in Florida.
With virtually no discussion, the House Rules, Calendar and Ethics Committee on Monday unanimously approved a measure (PCB RCEC 15-05) backing up the date of the 2016 primary by two weeks.
The committee took less than two minutes to hear and vote on the proposal, which would clear the way for all of the state’s Republican delegates to be awarded to the winner of the GOP presidential primary.
Under current law, the state’s primaries are set for the first Tuesday allowed under party rules; in 2016, that would be March 1. The new legislation would move that to the third Tuesday of March, or the 15th next year.
The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee is set to hear a similar bill (SPB 7036) on Tuesday.
The Republican National Committee’s rules for party primaries call for states who vote before March 15 in 2016 to allocate their delegates proportionally.
States that wait until that date can award all of their delegates to the winning candidate — a treasure trove in a large state like Florida that could particularly come in handy for former Gov. Jeb Bush or U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, both of whom are considering bids for the White House.
House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman, a Melbourne Republican who sponsored the bill, told reporters after the meeting that he has no firm opinion on which way the state GOP should go.
“By picking that date, the Republican Party of Florida has a choice. … If you set it before that, it would only be proportionate, so this is a date that allows for the choice,” Workman said.
The Republican Party of Florida would ultimately choose whether to go with a winner-take-all system or award delegates proportionally.
Democratic delegates are rewarded proportionally regardless of when a state’s primary is held.
State Republican Chairman Blaise Ingoglia has signaled that he would like the state to give all of its delegates to the winning candidate.
“I personally believe that Florida should be a winner-take-all state. We have moved up before, and it cost the party delegates at the national convention,” Ingoglia, a state House member, said.
“And I believe the party should be allotted its full complement of delegates. Look, Florida is the largest, most diverse swing state, and it should be the most important state.”
Moving the primary back is the opposite direction of where lawmakers have tended to go in Florida.
The state has previously tried to move up in the order, scrambling efforts by both the Republican and Democratic parties to protect the traditional early votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
That has cost Florida delegates at the national conventions as punishment for violating party rules, something that would not happen under either the date in current law or the one in Workman’s bill.