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Florida Democrats Stick With Jan. 29 Vote

There was little hope of a truce before, but now it is official: Florida Democrats are at war with their national party.

Karen Thurman, a former member of Congress who is the state party chair, made it plain Sunday that she will not be bullied into holding Florida's presidential primary after Feb. 4. Instead, she vowed to hold the primary as scheduled on Jan. 29 and launched a glitzy Web site to explain her reasons.

"There will be no other primary. Florida Democrats absolutely must vote on January 29th," she wrote on the Web site. "The nation will be paying attention, and Florida Democrats will have a major impact in determining who the next President of the United States of America will be."

Representatives of the Democratic National Committee did not return calls Sunday. But the national leadership has made it plain that they intend to punish any state, and Florida in particular, for thumbing its nose at their rules. Florida's penalty, leaders decided last month, will be the loss of all the state's delegates to the 2008 national convention.

The result is a presidential mess for Democratic candidates, who are caught in the middle of a procedural dispute that threatens to weaken the party's chances of capturing a pivotal state in 2008.

Party chairs in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- the states given an exception to vote before Feb. 5 -- have written the presidential candidates, urging them not to campaign in states that defy the party rules.

Strategists for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and the other Democratic hopefuls will now be forced to plot a path to the nomination without Florida's delegates. And they must figure a way to court the state's donors and general election voters without angering the early-state leaders.

Republicans, meanwhile, have no such issue -- the Republican National Committee is likely to penalize Florida for its early primary by chopping its convention delegation in half, but the GOP candidates have shrugged off the penalty and are campaigning hard in the state.

Why are Thurman and the state's other Democratic leaders so insistent on their primary date? They want to make sure the Democratic nomination is not all but decided by the time the Sunshine State votes next year.

"It means the working men and women who want to vote early will have the opportunity to vote early," Thurman said. "It means that those people who want to go to the polls on January 29th will be able to vote. That's what this United States is all about."

If she's right, the news media will treat the Jan. 29 vote as an important milestone, despite the lack of delegates -- bringing relevance to the Florida primary's outcome. If that happens, it would likely force national party officials to completely rewrite its primary system for 2012.

If Thurman is wrong, though, the state could find itself essentially without a voice in the nominating process. It's a high-stakes gamble that has the side effect of looking like a nasty family fight.

-- Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  September 23, 2007; 6:47 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Primaries  
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And that's part of the problem haweisz.

I was a member of the Democratic Party before I left...partly over reasons like this.

DNC should not have pulled Florida's delegates just because the GOP controlled Legislature and Executive Mansion moved the Primary Dates. So now only 49 states get to decide who will be the Democratic Nominee...will this unfair voting mechinism now force FBI intervention? And doesn't this change have to be approved by the US DOJ first? Isn't Florida covered by the Voting Rights Act?

Posted by: WxDude | September 24, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The media are not mentioning that the Florida legislature sets the primary date and it has a Republican majority.

Posted by: haweisz | September 24, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I am a lifelong Democrat. I live in Florida. It seems to me that the Democratic Party has some sort of death wish. Either that or the National Democrats think that they can live without 27 electoral votes, The Jan. 29 primary date was enacted by a Republican-controlled legislature. So why punish us?Iowa and New Hampshire aren't going to choose our next president anyway; their caucuses or whatever are merely media events.

So,I intend to withhold my November vote from the nominated Democrat, whoever she or he may be. I also intend to vote for "none of the above" in our non-binding, no-delegate primary. Sorry, but this is NOT Demmocracy at work. It is something else entirely.

Posted by: sameolddoc | September 24, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans will win Florida because the DNC is Disenfranchising the Democratic voters. If the Democrats don't care about their votes, why should they vote for their presidential candidates. The GOP will take this idea and run with it, and take the state.

Posted by: gegoff2003 | September 24, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Once again there is someone telling me what I want. Karen Thurman saying I want to vote early. I would rather have a chance to see and hear the candidates in my state of Florida than to particularly care whether we are the first to vote or not. Florida hasn't seemed to have much effect on who wins the primaries anyway.

I think it would be a much more effective use of the partys' time and money if they were to put more effort into making sure the voters have a ballot that can be verified by a paper trail.

Posted by: rgoldwing | September 24, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The DNC has no choice in the matter: The rules are very clear surrounding delegate selection, which all the DNC members (including Florida) approved last year.

While the DNC cannot control what a state legislature does, it does have control over how delegates are seated and its authority to deny seating delegates has been upheld in two Supreme Court decisions.

If Karen Thurman truly cared about Floridians being able to vote early, why didn't she lead the Florida Democratic Party's presentation for one of the two pre-window primaries? Instead of South Carolina, that slot could have been Florida's.

Posted by: cab91 | September 24, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

For the past several primaries my vote has been meaningless because the candidate has already been selected. The whole idea of certain states being the only ones with a voice is wrong.

The DNC will only hurt themselves with this attitude.

Posted by: monbac07 | September 24, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

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