The Republican National Committee is not happy. It wanted a drawn-out primary contest, one that would give less-organized or less-funded candidates a shot to prove themselves.
Instead, we're stuck with a brutal runoff between Guy Smiley and "the walrus of American politics," and yesterday, RNC members explained why: It's all Florida's fault.
They carefully planned their primary schedule to start
slowly in February and then kick into high gear in March and April, according to the Washington Post, in order to mimic the "long and closely watched primary battle in 2008 between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton." No one would have a primary in January, officials said, and there would only be four primaries in February.
The Post's Rosalind Helderman explains:
The committee's goal was to push the whole process out of the Christmas season and to avoid a front-loaded national primary, where all the big states held primaries early and chose the best organized, most well-funded candidate before voters in most of the country even got a chance to participate in the process.
To maintain the spread-out system, states were told they would have half of their delegates taken away if they scheduled their primaries in violation of the schedule, to which Florida replied, "Hey! Good idea! We're going to have ours in January."
The move last September caused chaos on the primary calendar -- early-primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, feeling their only claim to relevance being threatened, chastised the Florida GOP for violating the schedule, then promptly violated the schedule too, having a "No, we wanna be first" fight that included the New Hampshire secretary of state threatening to set the state's primary to a date in 2011.
And then, before anybody realized it, the first primary went from early February to January 3. One RNC member told the Post that Florida's move was "greedy, greedy, greedy," and the South Carolina GOP president called Florida a "rogue" state.
Too bad, RNC. Florida wanted to be superimportant, and now we're all stuck with the consequences.