- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Republicans, seeking to push the battleground state into the national limelight, announced Tuesday they are holding a presidential candidates’ summit in November.

The “Sunshine Summit” will coincide with the premiere fundraising dinner held by the Republican Party of Florida which will feature former Vice President Dick Cheney as the main speaker.

Florida is already home to several presidential candidates - including former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio - but the state moved the date of the 2016 primary back to March 15 in order to avoid violating national party rules designed to benefit the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, the chairman of the party, contended that the candidates should take advantage of the summit, which will be held before roughly 2,500 party activists and party leaders. The dinner is Nov. 12 while the summit will be held the two following days.

“With Florida’s immense size, diverse population, and wide range of media outlets, this event will give candidates a powerful platform to reach Florida voters,” Ingoglia said in a statement.

The event was initially scheduled for late October, but it created a potential ethics problem for Ingoglia and other House Republicans. Ingoglia, as well as the House speaker and 79 other GOP legislators, were in danger of having to skip the event because House rules ban fundraising while the Legislature in session.

The Legislature is scheduled to hold a special session to fix unconstitutionally drawn Senate districts from Oct. 19 through Nov. 6.

This will be the second major gathering of GOP presidential candidates in Florida this year. Gov. Rick Scott invited candidates to an economic summit that was held in June at Walt Disney World. It is not known yet whether Scott - who has stopped raising money for the party after they rejected his hand-picked choice for chairman - will attend.

Unlike past gatherings of presidential candidates hosted by the state party it will not include a straw poll. Four years ago businessman Herman Cain won the Presidency 5 straw poll in Orlando. Eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney came in third.

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