Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Primary 'A Non-Event'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Primary 'A Non-Event'

Article excerpt

Once, Labor Day marked the start of the general election race for the presidency.

For the 2000 presidential election, it came on Ash Wednesday.

And those who looked forward to casting a vote in Florida's presidential primary Tuesday? Well, never mind.

Expect a light turnout of party diehards and those who see casting a vote as an important measure of their civic responsibility, said Susan McManus, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida.

With Tuesday's sweeping primary victories for Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, each man all but clinched their party's nomination.

Democratic challenger Bill Bradley is likely to drop out of the race today, campaign aides said.

Meanwhile, Republican John McCain spent yesterday cloistered with advisers at his mountain home in Arizona, licking his wounds and weighing his options.

As a result, the primary in the nation's fourth most populous state is "a non-event now," said Tom Slade, the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

Even so, both Bush's and Gore's campaign say their man will campaign in Florida before Tuesday, an act more related to November than Tuesday's primary race, observers said.

The political fallout of Florida's irrelevance in the primary system remains to be seen.

But observers said that they don't necessarily think that Florida should change its primary.

Once upon a time, mid-March was not a very late date to have a presidential primary.

After all, California, the nation's most populous state, always held its primary in June.

No longer.

This year, Florida's primary follows elections in California, New York and other delegate-rich states.

The effect this time has been to reduce the importance of the Sunshine State in the nomination process, said Mitch Sanders, a professor of political science at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

One natural temptation for the future would be to move Florida's primary up to help ensure that the state's voters have a say in their party's nomination of a candidate.

"What we're headed towards is every one wanting to be first," McManus said. …

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