RPOF idea to exclude wayward presidential candidates from primary slammed


When members of the Republican Party of Florida’s executive committee convene via a telephone conference call Tuesday 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 the committee will discuss excluding some of the biggest names running for president from the March Florida primary ballot.

Party leaders are unhappy that presidential candidates’ RVSPs haven’t been flying in for the Sunshine State Summit, a three-day confab to be held mid-November at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Only Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have confirmed their attendance.

To leverage other candidates to show up for the event, state committee members will consider the proposal to nix any and all candidates who don’t attend the the November event. That idea, though, isn’t 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 grass roots base of the party in favor of financial interests of party leadership in Tallahassee,” said a disgusted Bob White, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida.

An RLC statement asserts 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 the 2016 election.

The RPOF summit is scheduled for Nov. 12 to 14, and will begin with a dinner featuring former vice president Dick Cheney. It would be the second event this year attempting a “cattle call” of GOP presidential candidates to come before Florida Republicans to make their case. In June Gov. Rick Scott held his own “economic growth summit” that saw Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal attend.

When announced in July, 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-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 March 15. It’s a winner-take-all-vote, meaning the winner will take home all 99 delegates that are at stake.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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