Primary runoff proposal TP’d at first House hearing
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/09/22-Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Dover, right, is congratulated by Rep. Daniel Perez, R-Miami, after the Local Business Protection Act passed the House, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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Lawrence McClure pulled the item at the start of the House State Affairs Committee meeting.

A proposal to bring runoffs back to Florida Primary Elections was pulled from a House agenda before its first hearing.

GOP Rep. Lawrence McClure, Chair of the House State Affairs Committee, announced immediately after opening his meeting that the bill would not be heard Wednesday. McClure filed the committee bill (PCB SAC 6).

But the bill immediately proved controversial. Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who has carried other election bills, slammed the legislation as a “bad piece of policy” the next day.

As drafted, the bill would call for a first Primary Election in every partisan race in Florida to be held 20 weeks before the General Election.

That would mean a state Primary would be scheduled for June 16, 2026, with a runoff held 10 weeks later on Aug. 25.

A runoff wouldn’t happen if any candidate receives a majority vote on the first run, a guarantee if only two candidates file. Both would advance in the rare event of a tie between two candidates.

Runoffs existed in Florida for most of the 20th century.

The state implemented a runoff system in 1901, setting a first Primary and a runoff four weeks apart, with the nomination for each party determined four weeks ahead of the General Election. About 12 years later, the state changed to a ranked-choice system, but by 1929, it re-established a Primary runoff system that would survive the century.

The state largely moved away from runoffs after 2002, when the federal Help America Vote Act became law. Scheduling issues prompted the state to suspend runoffs in 2002 and 2004 before formally repealing them in 2006.

The bill was seen in part as an effort to prevent a gubernatorial candidate like U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, from winning the GOP nomination for Governor next year with a plurality vote in a winner-take-all Primary. Gaetz criticized the proposal as wasteful and said he has “no plans” to run for Governor.

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Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


3 comments

  • I cannot tell a lie

    February 21, 2024 at 8:51 am

    “I cannot tell a lie” is something rumored to have been said by George Washington. Not Matt Gaetz. You’ve been warned.

  • JD

    February 21, 2024 at 9:22 am

    Does this bill mean it’s dead? Or just rescheduled? Seems like if it was killed, the GOP are afraid of it, which tells me we want it as a state.

  • Tom Palmer

    February 21, 2024 at 11:22 am

    So much for majority rule. The lack of runoffs allow someone clever at gaming the system–Andrew Gillum comes to mind–from getting a party nomination with getting a majority vote.

Comments are closed.


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