Morning must-read: Florida's early primary may draw further penalties

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says the delegates to be awarded in Florida’s primary might be divided up proportionally among the candidates, rather than awarded en masse to the winner, thereby diluting the state’s impact on the nominating process.

If that happens, the Florida primary winner could be awarded 15 to 20 delegates instead of 50, cutting the value of a victory.

The potential penalty is in response to the Florida GOP’s decision to set the primary for an earlier date, Jan. 31, in violation of party rules.

In a letter to state Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry, Priebus also raised the possibility that the Florida delegation to the 2012 convention in Tampa could get less-than-choice locations for its hotel accommodations and convention floor seating, and reduced guest passes and VIP privileges.

Many members of the Republican National Committee are angry that Florida, in a bid to have a bigger impact on the nomination, moved up its primary date to Jan. 31, a violation of party rules intended to delay the start of the primary season.

Priebus’s letter indicates the party may be forced to act because of protests filed by its members.

“It has come to my attention that one or more Florida voters may file a contest seeking proportional allocation of Florida’s delegation based on the primary taking place prior to April 1,” Priebus said in the letter.

“Furthermore, it is entirely possible that the Standing Committee on Rules will impose discretionary sanctions related to your state’s seating, guest passes and VIP privileges, and hotel location at the convention.”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.