St. Petersburg Times:
Setting the stage for a showdown with the Democratic National Committee, state Democratic Party leaders decided Sunday that Florida will hold one of the first presidential primaries in the country next year.
Nearly 100 party activists unanimously voted to hold the primary on Jan. 29, setting the stage for sticky negotiations with the national party, which bars all but a few states from holding primaries before Feb. 5.
DNC chairman Howard Dean appears to have little leeway to waive the rules, and even Florida Democrats doubt party activists in other states will want to make a special exception for Florida to violate a primary schedule carefully crafted in 2006.
Florida briefly considered a nonbinding beauty contest primary but:
In the end, the idea of Democrats in the state of hanging chads and Katherine Harris deciding not to count votes in a statewide election was too much for party leaders.
"Our main goal was we were not going to disenfranchise our voters here in Florida, " said state Democratic chairwoman Karen Thurman.
To rub our noses in it even more:
The activists who gathered in Broward County on Sunday are still considering holding a nonbinding presidential "straw poll" - basically a popularity contest - at their party convention in October.
Jerome Armstrong predicts: "Michigan jumps ahead of New Hampshire after they choose a date."
Update: Ballot Access News notes the Florida party's request to the DNC for a calendar waiver: "The Florida Democratic Party will lean heavily on the fact that since it is in the minority in both houses of the legislature, and since the Governor is a Republican, there is nothing to party could do to stop the primary from being moved to January 29."