TAMPA, Fla. - One would expect the Florida delegation to the Republican National Convention coming to Tampa next week would be given VIP treatment. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
As punishment for moving the state's primary earlier than the RNC rules allow, Florida's delegation was slashed from 99 to 50 voting members. There was hope that the party would forgive and forget, but a state party source told ABC Action News on Monday that's not going to happen.
Florida's decision to move it's Presidential primary from March to January 31 broke party rules and created a domino effect with other states moving their primaries up earlier to keep their place in line.
As a result, New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona and South Carolina all had their delegations slashed in half. Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman Art Wood isn't sure it was worth it.
"We didn't have the influence (in the primary election) we thought we were going to have, so I hope our officials who make this decision again in four years will come back and think really seriously about that.
Florida was also punished with a distant hotel assignment. The Innisbrook Resort is a lovely place to stay but it's a full 45-minute drive from the action downtown.
Florida Republicans are hoping the RNC will at least let the punished delegates attend the convention as guests.
"If we can't formally seat the full delegation, maybe we can still get the full delegation inside the building so they have the whole experience," said Wood.
That's what happened to the Florida delegation in 2008. Only 50 delegates were allowed to vote in the convention, but the other 49 were given guest passes that allowed them on the floor of the convention hall.
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