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Why Gingrich's Florida Challenge Won't Work Why Gingrich's Florida Challenge Won't Work

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Why Gingrich's Florida Challenge Won't Work

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrives at the University of North Florida, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

February 2, 2012

Anyone getting a sense of deja vu? For the Republican National Committee, the eerie feeling that they've lived this day before is exactly the reason why former Speaker Newt Gingrich won't be able to snag any delegates from Florida, even though the state broke party rules.

Remember, Florida was the catalyst for this year's rush to the front of the primary calendar. After both parties reached an agreement to begin the presidential nominating process in February instead of January, Florida Republican legislators threw a wrench in those best-laid plans by refusing to change their primary date, which is set by law, from January 31. That meant party officials in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina all had to move their primary contests ahead of Florida and into January.

The RNC and their Democratic counterparts will never fix the primary process without a sufficient mix of carrots and sticks, and the stick Republicans tried this year -- penalizing Florida half its delegates -- wasn't enough.

But Florida broke two rules: Under the calendar agreement the RNC passed last year, no state that holds its nominating contest before the first Tuesday in April may award delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Every state that holds a contest before April 3 must award delegates on a proportional basis. If a state awards delegates on a winner-take-all basis before April 3, they are subject to -- you guessed it -- losing half their delegation.

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