The second GOP debate is history. In a few days, polls will tell us who did well, or not so well, in the minds of voters. The final debate is set for Florida on March 10, just five days before the Florida Primary (although early voting begins March 5).
It is impossible to predict how many candidates will remain six months from now for that debate. If the Tallahassee leadership of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) has its way, the number of candidates on the primary ballot will be determined by their response to an “invitation.”
The RPOF is considering a requirement that GOP presidential candidates make an appearance at November’s Sunshine State Summit in Orlando. Under the proposal, those failing to at least make an appearance would forfeit their place on the Florida primary ballot.
If approved, Florida’s ballot would have just two names on it: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Both have accepted invitations to appear in Orlando either November 13 or 14. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is the featured speaker at a dinner on the evening of November 12.
RPOF Chairman and state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, along with Executive Director Brad Herold, are frustrated at the lack of attention being paid to Florida by the 16 remaining candidates. They seek some of the love and attention currently being showered upon other states, especially South Carolina, next year’s first Southern primary state.
Dr. Ben Carson, who now resides in Palm Beach County, sent regrets because he had already committed to an event in South Carolina. The RPOF believes Carson could do a fly-in and fly-out appearance at the summit.
Forcing the candidates to jump through this hoop has trouble written all over it. The proposal has support within the party’s grassroots leadership, while others are concerned.
Politico’s enterprising reporter, Matt Dixon, obtained the