At the behest of Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff, the Legislature on Friday tucked a last-minute amendment into major election-reform legislation, changing the state’s presidential primary date in a way that would help Rubio if he runs for president in 2016.
The amendment says the presidential primary will be as early as possible without violating rules of the Republican or Democratic parties. In the past two presidential elections, Florida held its primary in January, breaking party rules intended to prevent states from holding earlier primaries.
As a result, the parties cut the number of voting delegates the state sent to the conventions. But in 2016, under the amendment adopted just before the Legislature adjourned Friday, Florida will comply with the rules.
That means the primary will be weeks later, but full slates of delegates will go to the conventions and vote for the state’s primary winner, including, potentially, a favorite son such as Rubio.
Democratic political strategist Steve Schale confirmed that the idea for the change was proposed by Todd Reid, Rubio’s state director.
Rubio’s spokesmen didn’t respond to a request for comment late Friday.
Amendment sponsor Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said he added it at the request of House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who couldn’t be reached for comment.