While Democratic and Republican leaders from Florida confront their national parties over scheduling the Sunshine State's presidential primary on January 29, a big winner is emerging from the fuss—GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.
It seems all but certain that the Florida showdown for both parties will remain on January 29, even if it becomes only a straw poll with no delegates involved. That's the penalty—no delegates—that the Democratic National Committee voted to impose if Florida Democrats don't push the delegate selection contest back to February 5 or later, which is what party rules allow. State party leaders are resisting, and they have a month to decide before the penalty kicks in. One option would be to keep the state-wide vote on January 29 but actually choose delegates later, at caucuses or a state convention.
It turns out that the Republicans are heading for the same confrontation later this year. Beyond all the bickering, what all this means is that Giuliani will have a big day in Florida on January 29. He is leading there for the GOP nomination because his moderate stands on social issues match up well with Florida Republicans and because so many Floridians are New York-area transplants who admire Giuliani's record as mayor. Giuliani backers say the January 29 date is perfect for him because it comes just after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and on the same day as the South Carolina GOP primary—three states where Giuliani is lagging. But an expected victory in Florida would give him momentum going into February 5, when as many as 20 states are expected to hold primaries, including megastates like California and New York, where he is popular.
—Kenneth T. Walsh