Why is the DNC punishing Florida and Michigan but not New Hampshire?
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Hey, what about New Hampshire?
Sixteen Democratic members of the Florida and Michigan congressional delegations are asking Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean why he has not made the same punitive threat to New Hampshire as has been issued to Florida over the seating of delegates to the 2008 presidential nominating convention.
Florida is in violation of DNC rules by moving its primary up to Jan. 29 - a full week before all but four states are allowed to hold presidential nominating contests. (The DNC gave Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina special exemptions to hold caucuses and primaries on specific dates in January). (TIME.com: Will Dean's War on Florida Backfire?)
If the Florida Democratic Party agrees to hold its nominating contest on Feb. 5 or later, then all of its delegates will be invited to the Democratic National Convention next summer. If the state party moves forward with the Jan. 29 primary then not one Florida delegate will be allowed to attend.
“On August 9, 2007, the Chair of the South Carolina Republican Party traveled to New Hampshire and announced – at an event staged in the New Hampshire State House – that South Carolina Republicans would move their primary from January 29 to January 19, 2008,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote Dean on United States Congress letterhead. “New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardiner (sic) participated in this event and, with the support of the state’s Democrats, indicated that as a result of South Carolina’s announcement, New Hampshire would move its primary from January 22 to an earlier date. This action would result in New Hampshire’s Democratic delegates being selected in clear violation of the DNC Rules.
“Secretary Gardiner’s (sic) exact words at that event were: ‘In 1984 we moved ahead because of one party having a primary that mattered. And this time, the movement now of South Carolina will certainly trigger our law.’ To date, we have heard no criticism by the DNC of the New Hampshire decision, nor any threat to impose the ‘automatic’ sanctions referred to by your spokesman upon New Hampshire Democrats if their delegates are selected at a primary earlier than the date provided for in the DNC Rules.”
Stacie Paxton, a DNC spokeswoman, said the committee received the letter. She noted that the lawmakers are asking for the DNC to take action on something that has not yet happened. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee already has ruled against Florida’s delegate selection plan, while New Hampshire has yet to formally move off of its Jan. 22 primary date despite Gardner’s vows to do so.
The alliance between Florida and Michigan is the latest move in what has become a messy presidential primary calendar that is not near being finalized. The Michigan governor has moved the state primary up to Jan. 15, which violates DNC rules. But the state party has not yet officially presented the date to the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Adding more intrigue to this internal Democratic battle, most of the Democratic candidates have signed a pledge not to campaign in any state that violates the DNC’s rules.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston