The Republican primary contest schedule is finally locked into place, but not before RNC chair Reince Priebus had to do some fancy footwork in Nevada and Iowa to contain the events to 2012. The scramble that nearly had the first contest taking place in November got touched off by Florida’s Republican Party, which broke the rules set up by the RNC and moved its primary to January 31st instead of sometime in March. ABC’s Jonathan Karl asks Priebus whether the RNC will punish Florida for breaking the rules, and Priebus insists that the state delegation will lose half of their delegates:
“There is no discretion. There is no coming back. There is no kumbaya that’s going to happen. They’re going to lose half of their delegates and that’s a pretty serious penalty,” Priebus said during an interview with ABC News’ “Subway Series with Jonathan Karl.” …
But the states that chose to shift primary dates up — Florida, South Carolina and New Hampshire — will arrive at the Republican National Convention with half as many delegates. That means half as many votes for the presidential nominations and half as many passes to the convention floor — even though the convention will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“The penalty is there. The penalty is going to stick. That’s all there is to it,” Priebus said.
The chance of this penalty sticking? Somewhere between slim and none. Remember that the same penalty got applied by the DNC — initially — to Florida and Michigan in 2008 for pulling the exact same stunt. When it came time for the convention, though, the Obama campaign lobbied successfully to seat them anyway. The reason? No one wanted to alienate voters in Florida and Michigan in the general election and potentially lose their large number of electoral votes — 45 between the two states in 2012, or exactly one-sixth of a winning number.
That won’t change in 2012. When the convention rolls around, the RNC will cave to political reality, especially since the eventual nominee will make a big play for Florida votes by demanding that the entire delegation be seated. And so we will probably start the 2016 primaries — in either party — in 2015 as larger states realize that they can play the same game that Florida played in 2008 and 2012.