- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Republican Party of Florida executive board will vote on a rule Friday giving presidential candidates three options to get on the March 15 primary ballot: attend a summit hosted by the party, pay a $25,000 qualifying fee or gather 125 voter signatures from all 27 congressional districts.

The party had been considering a rule requiring attendance at the Nov 13-14 Sunshine Summit as the sole way to qualify for the primary ballot, but backed away from the idea after some candidates and party activists raised concerns.

A party committee proposed the qualifying rules Thursday.

“I still think most of the candidates are going to choose to come to the Sunshine Summit because it’s the easiest and most beneficial to them,” said state GOP executive director Brad Herold.

He said that he still expects eight to 10 candidates to attend the summit even with other options to make the ballot. The party plans to announce commitments from candidates next week. The event is expected to attract 2,500 party activists.



Florida moved its presidential primary from January to March to avoid breaking national party rules. The result has been few visits to Florida by the large field of Republican candidates other than to raise money.

In 2008 and 2012, when Florida was one of the first states to hold a primary, Republican candidates were much more frequent visitors. The RPOF summit was set up to give Republican activists a chance to hear from candidates in person.

The Florida Democratic Party executive committee will vote Nov. 1 during its convention to decide which candidates will appear on the presidential primary ballot. The committee can choose to put Vice President Joe Biden on the ballot even if he isn’t a declared candidate but has traditionally only included declared candidates, said party spokesman Max Steele.

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An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Biden wouldn’t be on the ballot if he hadn’t declared his candidacy before the executive committee vote.

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