Iowa caucus can be revealing, Alachua County's GOP chief says

In this Oct. 6 file photo, Alachua County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Stafford Jones is shown at a GOP dinner with CFO of Florida Jeff Atwater.

Gainesville Sun File
Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 5:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 5:47 p.m.

The eyes of the political world are on Iowa Tuesday, as the state will become the first to make up its mind on the Republican presidential field.

Some pundits put little stock in Iowa, a small state with six Electoral College votes to Florida's 29, but not Stafford Jones.

Jones, the chairman of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee, will be watching the results and, more importantly, the reactions from the candidates.

He said the Iowans who “brave the snow, the sleet, the rain to go out and caucus in the evening” are largely “hardcore political junkies” who have been paying attention to candidates for months.

“The caucus process doesn't take you to one easy, clear-cut result,” he said. “But if you're into the nuance of it, there's a lot of information on to be gleaned and learned from.”

He noted that few Iowa caucus winners have gone on to win the nomination and still believes the Sunshine State, which will vote on Jan. 31, is key to winning the White House in November.

While Florida Republicans are losing about half their delegates at the nominating convention, which will ironically be held in Tampa, because the state party decided to hold the primary earlier than allowed by national party rules, Jones said the state will still provide a huge boost to whoever who wins Florida because of its size and the early spot on the calendar.

The Florida primary will come fourth, after Iowa today, New Hampshire on Jan. 10 and South Carolina on Jan. 21.

“The theory behind the people that set this primary date, the theory is: It's OK, we can spare the delegates. Florida needs to be relevant,” he said. “It's not always necessarily about the number of delegates. It's also about momentum.”

As for a prediction for Tuesday night's result, Jones thinks Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, will win, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, “right on his butt.”

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