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Political Notebook

GOP in bitter dispute over presidential nominating calendar

April 1, 2011

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WASHINGTON — The Republican Party should consider pulling its 2012 convention from Florida if that state continues to insist on holding its primary so early in the schedule, state party leaders in Iowa and South Carolina said yesterday.

The dispute is part of an ongoing disagreement over the presidential nominating calendar, which could prove crucial for which candidate wins. National GOP leaders had been seeking an orderly and extended primary season, in part by punishing states that scheduled their elections before March 1, 2012. They carved out an exemption for four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

Florida has taken the most aggressive position, with a primary that is currently scheduled on Jan. 31, 2012 — before any other state. Despite pleas from national Republicans, state party officials are threatening to hold firm. That could prompt the national party to punish the state by cutting the number of delegates it has — an ironic outcome, because the Republican National Convention is being held in Tampa.

“The contempt that Florida legislators hold not only for the RNC 2012 rules, but also for the RNC members who approved these rules, is astonishing,’’ Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, said in a statement. “To reward this arrogance with our national convention is a great disservice to the Republican activists, donors, and elected officials nationwide who support the RNC.’’

His statement came after a letter from Karen Floyd, chairwoman of the South Carolina GOP, that also criticized Florida.

“What is disconcerting is the apparent recalcitrance of Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature, which is in effect thumbing its nose at the RNC — and feels emboldened to do so because of the 2012 convention location,’’ Floyd wrote.

Strawn and Floyd both requested that the RNC convene a special task force to select a new site for the 2012 convention, unless Florida moves its primary date.

GOP leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire have pledged to do whatever it takes to retain their early-voting status. Iowa’s caucus is currently set for Feb. 6, but that could be moved earlier if Florida refuses to budge.

Bill Gardner, secretary of state of New Hampshire, told the Globe last month that he would do everything it takes to preserve the Granite State’s coveted first-in-the-nation primary slot — even if that means moving its date to this year.

“We’re not going to give up this tradition to a state that has better weather or is more powerful,’’ said Gardner, who expects to set the New Hampshire primary date in the fall, after all the other states are done posturing. “We have our position, and we’re going to preserve our tradition.’’

— Matt Viser

Romney PAC raises nearly $1.9m in the first quarter WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney raised almost $1.9 million during the first three months of the year as he laid the groundwork for an expected presidential run. Aides to the Republican’s political action committee said yesterday that the Free and Strong America organization also gave away more than $400,000 to Republican candidates and conservative organizations.

The money is separate from his expected presidential bid but is a sign the former Massachusetts governor is planning a serious fund-raising operation.

Romney’s potential rivals aren’t likely to immediately report their totals and some aren’t required. Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who has announced a presidential committee, spent much of the first three months of this year on a book tour and didn’t emphasize fund-raising for his political operations.

— Associated Press

Obama receives award for openness — in private WASHINGTON — President Obama accepted an award for making the government more open and transparent — presented to him behind closed doors with no media coverage.

The discrepancy between the honor and the circumstances under which it was delivered bothered open-government advocates in attendance, they said yesterday. “To have such a meeting not be transparent is the height of irony. How absurd can that be?’’ said Gary Bass of OMB Watch, which keeps tabs on the White House Office of Management and Budget.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that, “Given the number of pressing items on the president’s agenda, the White House didn’t carve out time for a public event on the president’s schedule for the sole purpose of accepting an award from journalists praising his commitment to government transparency.’’

— Associated Press

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