Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 9:01 PM UTC

Florida plans to upset entire primary calendar

An expensive, big-state primary in January is bad news for less-rich candidates and late entrants to the 2012 race

Mitt Romney, Chris Christie and Rick Perry

Mitt Romney, Chris Christie and Rick Perry  (Credit: AP)

When last we checked in on Florida’s primary election date selection process, it looked like they’d cause some mild consternation by picking the week before Arizona’s date of February 28, which happens to also be the day South Carolina had planned on having their primary. Florida has instead apparently decided to just go all the way up to the end of January, putting them before… every other primary and caucus, upsetting the entire primary calendar.

They will not officially announce the date until Friday, but the Florida House Speaker has said on the record that they are picking January 31. Florida didn’t want to allow some other state to supplant its status as fifth in the nation, so they’ll just move up to first, knowing the traditional first four will be forced to move their dates to accommodate Florida. (Georgia, in particular, is playing chicken with Florida, waiting for them to decide on a date so he can schedule Georgia’s primary for right before.)

Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina are not pleased! But Florida (along with every other state) has correctly determined that the mystical psychic power bestowed by winning a primary early on is worth more than actual delegates at a convention held months later, after the victor has long been determined. Despite the best efforts of the RNC, it looks like the nominating process will be wrapped up by the end of January.

Florida is a big, expensive state, making it extremely unlikely for any candidate who may pull of a surprise victory early on in the small states to maintain any sort of momentum. Well-funded candidates will crush the little people early.

If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to actually run for president — before it seemed like he didn’t but now it seems like he might — he presumably knows that registration to be on the Florida primary ballot closes at the end of October. This gives him a solid deadline to make up his mind. But a January election date would not give Christie very much time to set up campaign infrastructure in a state he’d likely need to win to have any shot at the nomination. I sorta hope he does run, just to see his campaign flame out more spectacularly than Giuliani’s did.

Array