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Bill to move back presidential primaries passes state House

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A bill moving back Florida’s presidential primaries from March 1 to March 15 — the Ides of March — passed the Florida House this afternoon by a 114-0 vote.

The move, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Ritch Workman, allows Florida Republicans to take advantage of new national party rules that lets states that hold primaries after March 14 to award all primary delegates to the winner of that state’s primary, as opposed to apportioning them according to percentage of vote-share earned. That would be a boon for Marco Rubio or, more likely, Jeb Bush, the Sunshine State’s 2016 candidates. 

“With the passage of HB 7035, Chair Workman has maximized the impact Florida voters will have on selecting the Republican and Democrat presidential nominees in 2016,” said Speaker Steve Crisafulli in a statement. “I applaud his work on this good piece of legislation.”

There was pushback though from the backbenchers, namely from state Rep. Kevin Rader who “debated” the bill for about 10 minutes, mostly focusing on how he introduced a similar bill back in 2009 when he was a newly minted House Democrat. The bill got no traction. He insinuated that today’s move was intended to help Florida’s two likely presidential primary candidates.

Yes, Rep. Rader. It’s called politics.

“Congratulations, Representative Rader,” was Speaker Crisafulli’s ironic coda upon the bill’s passage.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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