The skirmish between the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Florida Democratic Party is escalating into a 21st Century War Between the States.
Three Democratic also-rans (New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Delaware Senator Joe Biden and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd) announced yesterday they will not campaign in Florida at the behest of the four states whose early primaries are “protected” by DNC rules; Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. These four states have launched a campaign urging Democratic candidates to boycott states, such as Florida, which are violating DNC rules by scheduling primaries earlier than the February 5th date set by the national party’s Rules Committee.
Florida Democratic officials were quick to react, led by Chairwoman Karen Thurman, ''I don't see how anybody who believes he or she should be president of the United States of America could get tricked into signing a pact to ignore tens of millions of diverse Americans by a selfish, four-state alliance of party insiders,” said Thurman.
With a wry reference to Idaho Republican Larry Craig, Dan Gelber, state House Democratic leader wrote, in a letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean, ''Today, toe-tapping Republicans with their excesses and over-reaching are imploding on the national stage. Leave it to Democrats to create a distraction born out of a nuanced disagreement over some arcane party rule.''
In an opinion piece published earlier in the week in USA Today, Florida’s senior Senator, Bill Nelson wrote:
”The issue before us is simple: It's a case of fundamental rights vs. party rules.
It's ironic, because national Democrats just celebrated the 42nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by unveiling a plan that "ensures all eligible Americans are able to vote and have their vote counted."
It's ironic, because Florida has seen its share of disputed elections and disenfranchised voters, from hanging chads in 2000 to faulty machines in Sarasota last year.
And it's ironic, because this year, after heartbreaking losses in 2000 and 2004, Democrats supposedly are united in their determination to win the presidency. That's hard to do when you tell 4 million Florida Democrats they don't count.