Florida: Two Men, 57 Delegates

If, as expected, the Republican National Committee decides to penalize the Florida Republican Party for holding its primary before the RNC-sanctioned window opens in February, two men -- only two men -- could determine which presidential candidate is allocated the remaining 57 delegates.

They are Gov. Charlie Crist and his representative, Jim Greer, the chairman of the state committee. (**Generally, the RNC awards three delegates to the candidate who wins each congressional district, and then gives bonus delegates to states with elected Republican office holders -- Florida has plenty of them -- and a history of voting for Republicans in presidential elections. That's where 114 comes from.)

In August, the PROF's rules committee set up a contingency plan for the eventuality that the RNC reduces the state's delegates from 114 to 57.

If that happens, Greer is empowered to select which 57 delegates will count toward the nomination. But these will be "unity" delegates. They won't be distributed proportionally; the winner of the entire state will receive all the delegates. And they'll be required to stick with their candidate through three rounds of balloting instead of the usual two. That means that candidates can't persuade delegates to change their affiliation after the fact.

Here's a sketch of the scenario. Let's say that Rudy Giuliani manages to win 45% of the vote and seven congressional districts. He'd take around 55 delegates. Mitt Romney winds up winning all remaining 18 CDs for a total of 51 delegates. But then the RNC ax is applied. The state only has 57 delegates to give out. All of them will be "given" to Giuliani; Greer will personally select the identities of the allocated delegates from the pool of elected delegates; they'll be required to stick with their candidate preference -- Giuliani -- through three rounds of balloting at the national convention, making it much harder for candidates or campaigns to persuade delegates to change their minds if the convention is brokered.

This weekend, Greer told me that he would not act without Gov. Crist's express permission. Hence -- the two men who control delegate selection in Florida.