When members of the Republican Party of Florida’s executive committee convene via a telephone conference call tomorrow night, one of the most controversial items on their agenda is already getting bad reviews from at least one faction within the state GOP.
RPOF officials confirmed last week that one of the issues that will be discussed includes excluding some of the biggest names running for president on next year’s primary ballot in March. Party leaders are unhappy that the RVSPs haven’t been flying in for the Sunshine State Summit, a three-day confab to be held in mid-November at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. In fact, at this time, only Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have confirmed their attendance.
So as a way to leverage other candidates to show up for the event, a proposal that will be discussed among state committee members would remove from next March’s Florida presidential primary ballot any and all candidates who don’t attend the the November event. But it’s not going over very well with the rank and file.
“This is yet another glaring example of a heavy-handed top-down leadership style that ignores the wishes of the grassroots base of the party in favor of financial interests of party leadership in Tallahassee,” says a disgusted Bob White, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida.
A statement by the RLC says that if the proposal passes, it would “establish a dangerous precedent where qualified candidates can be denied ballot access for any reason party leadership may deem sufficient.” It goes on to say that the move would disenfranchise voters and “risk alienating thousands of party activists” leading up to next November’s election.
The summit is scheduled to take place from Nov. 12-14, and will be kicked off by a dinner featuring former Vice President Dick Cheney. It would be the second event this year that attempts to create a “cattle call” of GOP presidential candidates who would come before Florida Republicans to make their case. Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott held his own “economic summit” that saw candidates like Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal attend.
When announced earlier this year, RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said, “The Sunshine Summit is a unique opportunity and event where presidential candidates will share their vision for the nation with the more than 2,500 expected activists and grassroots leaders in one of the most influential primary and general election swing states.”
At this point, however, it’s unknown how many presidential candidates will attend.
The Florida Republican presidential primary takes place on March 15. It’s a winner-take-all vote, meaning the winner will take home all 99 delegates at stake.