As if it weren’t daunting enough that so many other big states moving their presidential primaries up to February 5, Florida is considering stepping on South Carolina by holding its on January 29. As Adam Smith reports in the St. Petersburg Times, the national parties are threatening to punish Florida by taking away some of its delegates if it does–but state officials, including Governor Charlie Crist, don’t seem to care and could push ahead as early as this week. Such a move could conceivably set up a domino effect that would have the balloting begin in Iowa in December.
As for the candidates, they have only begun to grasp the implications, which could include sanctions on them if they campaign there under a schedule that defies the national parties. Florida can throw its weight around not only because of its size, but also because of its importance in the general election. When New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was asked about it on Friday, he said, “Candidates like me can’t ignore it, so I’m going to compete in Florida.”