FL Wants to Overhaul Primary

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Look out, New Hampshire. Floridians are mad and plan to do something about it. What they're angry about is the realization that Tuesday's primary will have less of an impact in deciding the major parties' presidential nominees.

Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W Bush already essentially eliminated their competition and are in the final stages of putting the finishing touches on their respective nominations.

As a result, some members of the Florida Legislature are hoping to pass legislation, which would move the Sunshine State's 2004 primary contest to the final Tuesday in January. That would force New Hampshire, which under its laws must hold their primary a week before any other primary, to move up its race.

"Florida is not a player...we're a non-entity," said Democratic State Representative Willie Logan.

Florida officials may soon have the backing of the National Association of Secretaries of State. That group is actively promoting an overhaul of this year's primary schedule that resulted in the front-loading of the presidential selection process.

"We need to seize the momentum of this election cycle," said California's Assistant Secretary of State Beth Miller. "If nothing happens this year, in four years everyone will be voting early and it will be a defacto national primary."

As a result, the association is asking states to stagger a series of regional primaries, beginning in March in the East, followed by the South in April, the Midwest in May and ending in June in the Western states.

Miller contends the regional primaries would be good for the process and the candidates, since they would have a full month to campaign in each region, before moving on. This year, the Iowa caucuses were held a week before the New Hampshire primary. A few days later, the parties held a primary in Delaware, which most candidates skipped in order to campaign in South Carolina.

Two weeks later, the bunching continued with the first of what are known as Super Tuesday races in a host of states, including California, New York and Ohio.

The southern Super Tuesday contests being held today find both Gore and Bush firmly in command in their respective races.

The association is also considering allowing small states, like New Hampshire and Iowa, with their retail brand of politics, to vote before the first regional primary.

In addition to the secretaries of state, the Republican and Democratic National Committees are also looking at the primary process. Each has appointed committees to develop a new system. Both parties are expected to alter the process at their national conventions set for this summer in Philadelphia and in Los Angeles.

At a recent meeting of the GOP panel, former Republican National Committee Chairman William Brock said, "It is fair to say that virtually every member of our commission and virtually every political leader of either party...has expressed concern with the current system."