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DNC Votes To Shut Florida Dems Out of Convention

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In a move to stem the onrushing tide of states maneuvering to be “the firstest with the mostest” in the upcoming primary season, the rules and bylaws committee of the Democratic National Committee has voted to give the Florida Democratic Party 30 days to reschedule its January 29th primary to a date after February 5th, or risk having all of its 210 delegates excluded from the Democratic National Convention.

The rules committee, which earlier had voted to prohibit all but four states from holding their primary elections and naming delegates before the February date, voted nearly unanimously on Saturday for the measure (only Florida member Allan Katz voted against), rendering the Florida Democratic Primary essentially meaningless.

State Democratic leaders protested the measure, saying that they were outvoted 2 to 1 in the Florida Legislature last January, when the vote was taken to move the state’s primary from its traditional March slot to the January date. Said state Democratic Chairperson Karen Thurman of Saturday’s heated discussion in the rules committee, “Florida Democrats did what they could, but, in the end, we failed.”

State Democrats are concerned that the move, if unresolved, will result not only in the primary being relegated to the status of “beauty contest,” but will also give the state short shrift during the campaign season, as candidates avoid spending time and money to campaign in Florida during the primary phase. Senator Barack Obama, campaigning in Miami on Saturday, indicated that the outcome of the dispute will be a “consideration” in his planning of his future trips to stump in the state.

According to The Miami Herald, the struggle in Florida is just a harbinger of fights yet to come as other states rush headlong to schedule their primaries earlier in 2008, with some even contemplating setting primaries as early as later this year. Next on the DNC’s agenda is Michigan, whose Senate is expected to vote this week to move its primary up to January 15th.

Chairperson Thurman is hopeful that a compromise will be reached in time, but said, “I think it’s going to be a difficult discussion.”

According to the Washington Post, Thurman has declined to indicate whether the state party will sue the national party, as was suggested by Florida’s Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson.

Meanwhile, it is likely that a similar fight will erupt within the GOP, as that party may also move to sanction Florida Republicans for their earlier primary. The national GOP has given Florida Republicans until September 4th to come up with an acceptable plan, or face losing up to half of their delegates.

Florida holds separate but simultaneous primary elections on the same day, and voters must vote in the primary of the party they declared when registering.

It will be interesting to see how the two national parties will resolve this dispute with the voters of the nation’s fourth largest state; the state that literally decided the 2000 Presidential election. The outcome of Florida’s battle almost certainly will affect other states as well, and depending on final results, may well portend a strengthening of state parties vis-a-vis the nationals.

About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    I think it was Will Rogers who said,

    “I don’t belong to any organized political party;I’m a Democrat.”

  • Dr Dreadful

    Dumb system; simple fix.

    If everyone’s in such a flap about their state’s primary being “relevant”, then why the hell not have every party and every state hold their primaries on the same damn date?

  • Clavos

    Bingo, Doc!

  • Nancy

    Thank yew, Doc! Of course, this kind of logical thinking will never be instituted by the idiots who run things.

    Meanwhile, IMO Floridians (most of them, anyway) shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they’ve proved twice now that they’re too goddamned dumb to tell a hanging chad from a post, or follow basic English instructions on how to pull the levers. Either that or they’re mostly senile. Either way, they shouldn’t be voting.

    ;P

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    A national primary would solve some problems but make others worse. Candidates would be forced to blow their budgets on national TV ads instead of retail campaigning in person.

    There was some talk of drawing the states’ names at random and having monthly big primaries of multiple states.

    None of the solutions seems very satisfactory. Maybe we should go back to smoke-filled rooms behind closed doors?

  • Nancy

    I wish they’d pass a law where NO state can do ANYTHING more than 6 months before the actual election. Furthermore, I wish they’d also legislate that the news services can’t report on polling results (i.e. who won what state) until ALL polls throughout the ENTIRE US have closed – including Hawaii. No, we wouldn’t find out til morning who won, but then the people in Hawaii might actually have some free choice who to vote for, without the damned MSM telling everyone So-&-So has ‘won’ the elections, before they (people who vote later due to time differences) even get to cast their votes. It’s only fair.

  • Dr Dreadful

    A national primary would solve some problems but make others worse. Candidates would be forced to blow their budgets on national TV ads instead of retail campaigning in person.

    Better some national TV advertising that reaches everybody than candidates not bothering to campaign at all in some states.

    I think the US is about the only country that has this bizarre primary system. In most other nations, it’s left to the local party members to choose their candidate. In Britain this often happens years before an election is even held, so there’s little or no annoying campaigning involved.

    America is severely over-democratized in my opinion. You have these ridiculous primaries just to decide who gets to run, and then you insist on holding elections for highly responsible positions like fire chiefs, coroners and judges instead of hiring people based on merit.

  • Clavos

    “then you insist on holding elections for highly responsible positions like fire chiefs, coroners and judges instead of hiring people based on merit.”

    Very true, Doc, and one of the worst problems with local government.

    Many cities and metropolitan counties (some with multi-billion dollar budgets) also do not employ professional managers, and are administered only by an elected mayor and/or a board of commissioners, who have responsibility not only for policy, but also the day-to-day operations of the municipality.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West’s Assistant

    Yeah? But nobody complains when they make the same threat to the District of Columbia, like they did in 2004, do they now? Our primary election was already fucking meaningless, and we only scheduled it early because we thought maybe media figures who reported on it would note that we had no congressional representation, thereby making the nation at large aware of our disenfranchisement. But noooooooooo. Our completely symbolic and ultimately meaningless gesture was just too much for the parties to bear.

    Maybe if anyone had cried foul when the DNC and the RNC screwed D.C., I’d be more likely to cry foul, or have any sympathy, when the DNC and the RNC screws the states. But nobody cared when we got screwed, so fuck ‘em.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Wasn’t the original idea behind the creation of DC that it would be a purely administrative city, not a major metropolis where actual citizens lived?

    A place to corral all the politicians and their entourages where they couldn’t do too much damage?

  • Clavos

    If it wasn’t, it should have been.

    But you just gave me an idea, Doc.

    We should take the right to vote away from those we elect to office. That way, those who are elected might be more inclined to govern according to their principles and less for political reasons.

    Just a thought….(4!)

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    This truly sucks. I used to be registered as Independent / No Party Affiliation (NPA). The only reason I changed my registration to Republican is so I could vote in the primary elections. And now it looks like the most important primary election there is (the Presidential one) isn’t going to even count here in Florida.

    Oh…fiddlesticks! :-/

  • tom bar

    The DNC likes the current system because it allows them to corral votes.

    Had we a national primary in years past Dean would have won the nomination.

    I maintain that Hilary is not as popular among Democrats as Republicans believe her to be. Not by a long a shot.

    The current system works in her favor. A national primary date would work in Kucinich, or Obamma’s favor.

    I’m all for reining in the DNC, and forcing a national primary.

  • Clavos

    One point which I considered while writing the article, but did not include, is that the DNC is playing with fire with this maneuver in the sense that they are threatening to effectively disenfranchise their voters in a state where Democratic voters are already extremely unhappy and consider themselves to have been already disenfranchised in the last two elections.

    It’s a risky tactic in a power struggle which may result in a deeper schism between the state and national Democratic Parties.

  • Nancy

    That’s a thought, Clavos, indeed.

    Actually, I’m in favor of doing away with both primaries AND the electoral college. I’m glad to see a couple of states have already made steps towards the latter.

    In any event, the primary system probably won’t go away unless forced to because it allows the GOP & Dems to maintain & force on an increasingly hostile population of voters the current two-party lock on elections. The last thing either party wants is to open up elections to independent or 3rd parties.

  • Clavos

    You’re right Nancy.

    The Electoral College system is also the ONLY power the national parties still have over the state parties, so they will fight tooth and nail to preserve it.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Without primaries, how would nominees be chosen?

    A nonpartisan free-for-all may sound pleasingly anti-status-quo, but it would just end up being won by the candidates with the biggest TV ad budgets, no?

    Unless we outlaw TV ads, which would be fine with me but is branded anti-free-speech by many on the right.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Wasn’t the original idea behind the creation of DC that it would be a purely administrative city, not a major metropolis where actual citizens lived?

    Yup. It was a naive and hopelessly unrealistic idea, too, as evidenced by the fact that within two years of its incorporation it had enough actual citizens living there to require a city government.

    The whole point of publicizing our disenfranchisement was/is to attempt to get enough states to ratify a constitutional amendment on our behalf.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ
  • Dr Dreadful

    There’s a different electoral vote initiative underway in California (and in several other states, I believe) to change the law so that the state’s electoral votes go to the candidate who tops the popular vote nationwide, rather than just in Cali.

    The idea is to prevent a repeat of the 2000 election, when the candidate who won the popular vote lost the electoral vote. And we all know what happened next…

  • Clavos

    I would disagree with that idea; because, if the voters of a particular state vote for a different candidate, forcing that state’s electoral votes to the top nationwide popular vote-getting candidate would nullify their votes.

    And that’s what would have happened in the 2000 election, Doc. There were several impartial post-election recounts that confirmed that Bush did in fact win the popular vote here in Florida, albeit by a razor-thin margin.

    Had the Florida delegates been thrown to Gore, Florida’s voters might as well not have gone to the polls.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I also don’t think it’s a great idea, Clavos. As you point out, it would effectively disenfranchise up to 49.9% of the electorate. I brought it up to contrast with the initiative RJ reported on.

    An example of what happens when a large portion of voters’ views are discounted would be a parliamentary democracy like the UK, where, because of the first-past-the-post constituency system, it’s possible for a party to command a thumping majority with less than 40% of the vote.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Here’s an idea, though. Instead of counting the electoral votes, you could give the presidency to the candidate who can withstand the most electrical volts. Mwuuuah-ha-ha-ha!!!

    I thank you.

    Dr Frankenstein Dreadful