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Nancy Smith

Sorry, Frank: It's Our Party Primary and We'll Cry (Only) If We Want to

October 4, 2011 - 6:00pm

Liberal scribblers are fish out of water when they dive into GOP affairs all wet.

Bless their hearts, they can't help themselves. They've got to butt in and pronounce judgment.

The latest lost lefty is Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino, whose Tuesday column ("Cerabino: GOP election rules don't apply to exceptional Florida") -- cleverly written as his columns always are -- jumped all over Florida's legally authorized committee for choosing Jan. 31 as its presidential primary date.

But, wait a minute.

The only dog the Democrats have in this hunt is the president. And Barack Obama is so far unchallenged by any major player. So, for all intents and purposes, the primary is a wild, wide-open, carnival ride of a Republican bash.

Makes not the slightest impression on Frank.

Speaking of state Republicans, Frank says disdainfully, "... Once again, they're ignoring the primary calendar set by their own party to bump up the Florida primary to the end of January from its allotted spot in March."

And why wouldn't they? Had Florida listened to Frank and his Democrat posse of prodigals, had it waited until March and complied with Republican National Committee rules, the state likely would have lumbered in like a loggerhead at something like No. 12 on the primary calendar. Missouri, Illinois and others had plans to jump ahead of us. It makes no sense.

Frank stretches it, but he's cute making his case. He compares American Exceptionalism -- which he describes as giving the United States "sole permission to engage in gross acts of international misbehavior" -- with Florida Exceptionalism: state Republicans recognizing that candidates should face a competitive race here, where it counts.

Face it, Frank, Florida is the largest swing state in the U.S.

A candidate must win Florida to win the White House.

By choosing Jan. 31, Florida never rocked the boat of the four states ahead of it, although for the life of me, I don't know why not.

There is absolutely nothing exceptional about these folks.

New Hampshire and Iowa are like the bratty little kids who elbow their way to the front of the buffet line, then throw a tantrum if anyone else dares to get ahead of them. South Carolina whines, but it was penalized in 2008 for breaking the rules and holding its primary early. And Nevada? What happens in Nevada should stay in Nevada -- those folks admit it themselves.

Before Florida's legally authorized committee chose Jan. 31, Arizona and Colorado had already grabbed dates in February -- in violation of RNC rules. So Florida was not the first to "break" rules.

Staging a primary in March would virtually guarantee that the earlier states decide the winner, or at least the almost-winner. And wouldn't Frank and the Dems be tickled pink? Wouldn't they love to disenfranchise Florida Republicans?

Instead, Florida will be fifth.

Instead, Florida Republicans get to play a crucial role. Candidates will be forced to begin campaigning in the Sunshine State once Iowa and New Hampshire are done.

Just watch what happens in January. Watch Florida generate excitement, revenue and clout up the wazoo.

Dean Cannon, the man Frank Cerabino calls "Florida House strongman," got 'er done after all. He took care of first things first.

This is an opinion column: Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com, or at (850) 727-0859.

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