|Published:||Jan 11, 2012 5:23 AM EST|
|Updated:||Jan 11, 2012 5:23 AM EST|
NAPLES, Fla. - With New Hampshire's GOP primary now decided, Florida's big day in the political spotlight is just three weeks away.
Federal election laws put limits on what local party officials can do. They can't endorse just one candidate or even spend money on the primary, but they can get voters prepared to cast an important ballot.
"Most of the heavy lifting we had was already done, in other words... Getting people registered Republican," said Collier County Republican Executive Committee chair Frank Schwerin.
Schwerin said Republican voters are growing in strength in Collier County ahead of the January 31st primary.
"There were several hundred switches from independent to Republican," Schwerin said he was told by the Collier County Supervisor of Elections.
Collier County has been at the center of the excitement since early in the campaign season , hosting candidates like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and private fundraisers for others including Mitt Romney.
Local party leaders expect the candidates to return with the primary fast approaching.
While Florida lost half of its convention delegates as a punishment for moving up the primary, the state is expected to have plenty of influence.
"Whoever the front-runner is could close the deal in Florida and it may basically be over," Schwerin said.
And after months of campaign battles, Schwerin is confident the winner will get the party's full support.
"We're going to unite behind and coalesce behind our nominee, whoever that may be," Schwerin said.