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Gov. Scott signs presidential primary push-back into law

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Gov. Rick Scott today signed into law legislation that will move Florida’s 2016 presidential primaries back two weeks, from March 1 to March 15.

Scott’s approval of HB 7035, shepherded by state Rep. Ritch Workman and state Sen. Garrett Richter in their respective legislative chambers, puts Florida in position to take advantage of new Republican National Convention rules allowing states to adopt a winner-take-all primary in which all delegates are awarded to the winner, as opposed to meted out piecemeal according to proportion of the vote share won by each candidate.

The move stands to give a leg up to likely Florida-based candidates for president Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. It reverses the recent trend in the Florida electoral calculus whereby the Legislature moved the state’s primary ahead of the pack, as early as January 31, back in 2011.

Rubio took an active interest in this precise issue back in 2013, when he persuaded the state Legislature to omit language to enshrine a January primary in an election reform package that might have exposed Florida to the same national party penalties that affected both parties during the 2012 primary elections.

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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