House committee temporarily postpones runoff election bill

by | Feb 21, 2024

The House State Affairs Committee has decided not to move forward with a bill that would have reinstated primary runoff elections in Florida, casting doubt on its future as the legislative session approaches its end.

The House State Affairs Committee has effectively sidelined a bill that would have reintroduced primary runoff elections in the state, putting its future in doubt as the legislative session nears its end.

The House State Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Lawrence McClure, indicated that the bill is unlikely to progress this session, with no further meetings scheduled before the March 8 conclusion.

The decision not to advance the bill came amid skepticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, as first reported by Florida’s Voice, alongside public opposition from political figures, including Congressmen Reps. Byron Donalds and Matt Gaetz. The pair lambasted the bill for its potential financial burden, impact on election integrity, and the advantage it could give to “established” candidates over newcomers.

Presented by the House State Affairs Committee, the legislation would have introduced a second primary election when no candidate in a partisan race wins a majority of the votes — an electoral structure not utilized since the turn of the century.

Under the legislation, if no candidate achieved more than 50 percent of the vote in a primary election, a second primary would be held 10 weeks before the general election. The run-off would feature the top two candidates from the first primary to determine the party’s nominee.

“The names of the candidates placing first and second in the first primary election shall be placed on the ballot in the second primary election,” reads the filing.

Upon the bill’s filing, U.S. Congressman Rep. Gaetz and Congressional candidate Anthony Sabatini both spoke against the measure, questioning its necessity.

“Runoff elections cost taxpayers millions, increase targets for fraudsters, and empower establishment candidates over firebrands,” said Gaetz, with Sabatini adding that “Moderate ‘RINOs’ and their consultants are pushing to eliminate any and all grassroots candidates in a second primary, where they can drown them in a second barrage of super PAC attack ads.”

Former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham voiced support for the measure on X, harkening her father and former Florida Governor Bob Graham’s 1978 gubernatorial victory, which was reached following a Democratic Primary runoff.

“When no primary candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, runoffs allow for the strongest candidate in the general election. My Dad would not have been Governor without the runoff. Bringing back runoffs would be good for Florida and democracy.”


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