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Dems blast GOP primary change for its 'disregard for bipartisanship'

Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith blasted the GOP-led committee decision Friday to set Florida's presidential primary for Jan. 31. The move subjects his party to the same penalties Republicans face for scheduling the vote before March.

“Once again, Republicans in Florida have shown a total disregard for bipartisanship and following the rules of the road,'' Smith said in a statement. "Today’s decision is a slap in the face to their own party and the bipartisan rules agreed upon over a year ago to ensure an orderly primary process.”

Two of the three Democrats on the 9-member panel voted against the move to leap frog other states and face a loss of delegates at the national party convention. Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, a member of the committee said she listened to many Floridians, including many Republicans who disagreed with the early primary.

"I share the sentiment of the majority of these Floridians who recognize that the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee agreed to a process, agreed to rules, and agreed to a presidential primary date calendar,'' she said after the vote.

 “I believe that Florida should respect the integrity of the process and comply with the rules that both political parties agreed to. I don’t want the voices of Floridians to be diminished and the state penalized because Florida failed to adhere to the agreement.”