via @learyreports @adamsmithtimes
It was supposed to assert Florida’s dominance in picking the Republican presidential nominee, but a move to push back the primary and award all delegates to the winner has rankled party activists who say it has made candidates wary of the state and could disenfranchise voters.
“It was a mistake. It’s almost taken Florida out of play,” said Randy Osborne, chairman of the Marion County Republican Executive Committee, who has been trading messages with other local leaders.
Campaigns are reluctant to talk about their plans but some are clearly questioning if it’s worth engaging in a big, expensive state with two favorite-son candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
Osborne, a supporter of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said Republicans in his area are “all kind of like 'Wow, how come candidates aren’t spending money here? Where’s the signs, the bumper stickers?’ And that’s not just Cruz.”
Criticism is apparent across Florida even as the state GOP chairman relented on a hardball gambit to force candidates to show up for a summit in November or be excluded from the March 15 primary ballot — itself a sign of the reluctance from candidates.
It’s entirely possible Bush and Rubio will be locked in a Florida battle royale that would cost tens of millions of dollars, so rival campaigns are looking at Florida with some caution, if relief.
“No one is saying it’s the winner-take-all but they sure are finding a lot of excuses not to come,” said Mike Lyster, Republican chairman in Collier County, adding that grassroots activists are itching to help out their chosen candidates.