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Republicans Prepping For Big Fla. Primary

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Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (C) speaks at his party on primary night as his wife Callista Gingrich (R) looks on January 10, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire.  According to early results, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished first in the state's primary election. Romney has led a field of six GOP candidates in the polls by double digits going into to the primary, a second important test for presidential hopefuls. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (C) speaks at his party on primary night as his wife Callista Gingrich (R) looks on January 10, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. According to early results, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished first in the state’s primary election. Romney has led a field of six GOP candidates in the polls by double digits going into to the primary, a second important test for presidential hopefuls. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Carey-Codd-600x450 Carey Codd
Carey Codd is a General Assignment Reporter for CBS4 News and jo...
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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Republican Party of Florida is expecting massive turnout for Florida’s primary on January 31.

The party also believes that as the Republican primary race tightens in South Carolina ahead of Saturday’s primary, Florida’s primary becomes even more important.

“We’re the big prize and we think we’re in position to seal the deal for a front runner or radically change the field,” party spokesperson Brian Hughes told me Friday.

As expected, Hughes believes the winner of Florida will be the nominee.

Hughes also said that South Florida voters are about to see an explosion of campaign ads, by the middle of next week, as the campaigns turn their full attention to the Sunshine State.

As for turnout, Hughes said there are more Republicans – about 4 million total – registered in the state now than in 2008 for the last primary. Hughes said in 2008 turnout for the primary was around 50 percent – about 1.9 million voters.

Even a similar turnout to 2008 would produce a greater turnout, Hughes said.

The party expects a fired-up base of voters to head to the polls when early voting begins throughout the majority of the state tomorrow.

Hughes also said more than 466,000 absentee ballots were requested this year, significantly more than in 2008.

For more on the primary including sample ballots and where you can vote early starting Saturday, click here.

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