|Presidential hopefuls (L to R) Ron Paul,
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney at the Republican
debate in Orlando
© AFP/POOL/File Phelan M. Ebenhack
MIAMI (AFP) – Florida officials decided Friday to move up the vital battleground’s presidential primary date to January 31, sowing chaos in the political calendar in the run up to the November 2012 elections.
The state, which has 29 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to clinch the White House, is expected to be the largest battleground when President Barack Obama faces off against his as-yet undetermined Republican rival.
Moving up the date gives candidates less time to raise funds and court supporters, which could weigh on Republicans tempted to consider making a late entry into the already crowded field, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
A special committee voted 7-2 to buck Republican party leaders, who opposed the move and warned it would cost the state half of the delegates it will send to the national nominating convention set to be held in Tampa, Florida.
Florida paid that price in 2008 but went on to be the decisive state in that year’s Republican nominating fight, effectively anointing Senator John McCain the party’s champion.
Officials in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — the only states allowed under Democratic and Republican party rules to hold their nominating contests before March 6 — were now expected to move up their dates to go before Florida.
An early primary or caucus is thought to give a state more influence in shaping the eventual party nominee by giving the winners more media coverage needed to help raise money and build momentum among core party supporters.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license