March 17th, 2008
05:44 PM ET
10 years ago

No new primary for Florida's Democrats

(CNN) - The Florida Democratic Party said Monday it would not hold a new vote that would allow the state’s delegation to be seated at the Democratic National Convention, regardless of whether the costs for the new primary were covered by the national party or not.

In an e-mail sent to Florida Democrats, state party Chair Karen Thurman said “We researched every potential alternative process – from caucuses to county conventions to mail-in elections – but no plan could come anywhere close to being viable in Florida.”

The national party stripped Florida of its delegates last year, along with Michigan, when both states scheduled their primaries in January, in violation of DNC instructions. None of the major candidates campaigned there ahead of those votes.

Florida’s Democrats had been weighing several options for a re-vote, including a possible mail-in primary, ahead of the DNC’s June 10 deadline.

“I’m glad that the party has reached the same conclusion that was reach by the congressional delegation a week ago,” said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid who had been staunchly opposed to a re-vote, telling CNN that “now it’s time for all the people involved in ensuring Florida’s delegation is seated to come together and make sure that happens.”

Wasserman Schultz, who said the party’s decision had been reached over the weekend, expressed a willingness to consider a proposal that would allow the full delegation to weigh in at the convention, but for each delegate to get just half a vote.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama, told CNN’s Gloria Borger that the Illinois senator would like to see Florida’s delegates counted in a way that would not alter the overall outcome heading into the party’s convention, but “does give Florida the opportunity to vote.” He rejected the one-half person formula that seemed to gain traction last week as prospects for a second primary grew more remote.

The Clinton campaign, which has pressed for the full Florida delegation to be seated, expressed its disappointment with the state party’s decision. “Today’s announcement brings us no closer to counting the votes of the nearly 1.7 million people who voted in January,” said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer. “We hope the Obama campaign shares our belief that Florida’s voters must be counted and cannot be disenfranchised.” Clinton won the Florida primary.

In a statement, the Obama campaign said: “We hope that all parties can agree on a fair seating of the Florida delegates so that Florida can participate in the Democratic Convention, and we look forward to working with the Florida Democratic Party and competing vigorously in the state so that Barack Obama can put Florida back into the Democratic column in November.”

State party officials had developed the re-vote plan - which was sent last week to national party leaders, including DNC Chairman Howard Dean, and the Clinton and Obama campaigns - that would have combined mail-in and in-person primary votes in a new contest that would conclude June 3. The proposal would have let the state regain its 210 delegates.

Florida's congressional Democrats soon rejected the plan. "After reviewing the party's proposal and individually discussing this idea with state and local leaders and elections experts, we do not believe that this is a realistic option at this time and remain opposed to a mail-in ballot election or any new primary election in Florida of any kind," they said in a statement released Thursday night.

Thurman said Monday the decision over whether and how to seat the state’s delegation was now in the hands of the national party.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

(updated 7 p.m. ET with campaign comment, additional background)

Full letter below:

Dear XXX,

For a year now, the Florida Democratic Party has tried to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules of the Democratic National Committee.

We researched every potential alternative process – from caucuses to county conventions to mail-in elections – but no plan could come anywhere close to being viable in Florida.

We made a detailed case to the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, but we were denied.

Our Democratic legislators in Tallahassee tried to set the Florida primary on Feb. 5, instead of Jan. 29, but of course, their proposed amendment to House Bill 537 was greeted with laughter and derision from the Republicans who control the state government <>.

Does ‘537’ ring a bell? It should. It’s the number of votes that separated Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore in Florida in 2000.

It’s the number that sent this country and this world in a terrible direction.

We can’t let 537 – or the Republicans – determine our future again.

President Bush plans to stop in Florida tomorrow to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Republican National Committee’s efforts to elect his successor in November.

The last thing America needs is a third Bush term. Despite the widespread anxiety that working families feel, not to mention the broad agreement among economists that we are in a recession, President Bush and John McCain blindly believe that the economy is strong.

And let me remind you that John McCain endorsed President Bush’s decision to deny health care to thousands of Florida children by vetoing an expansion of the successful SCHIP program. McCain also promises to jeopardize the financial security of Florida seniors by privatizing Social Security. He continually threatens to push Florida’s military families to the brink by keeping American troops in Iraq for “100 years” or more.

This is why we are Democrats, and this is why we must stick together, no matter where this ongoing delegate debate takes us.

Last week, the Florida Democratic Party laid out the only existing way that we can comply with DNC Rules – a statewide revote run by the Party – and asked for input.

Thousands of people responded. We spent the weekend reviewing your messages, and while your reasons vary widely, the consensus is clear: Florida doesn’t want to vote again.

So we won’t.

A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it’s simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the Party were to pay for it. Republican Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio refuses to even consider that option. Florida is finally moving to paper ballots, which is a good thing, but it means that at least 15 counties do not have the capacity to handle a major election before the June 10th DNC primary deadline.

This doesn’t mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, which is scheduled to meet again in April.

When this committee stripped us of 100% of our delegates last year, some members summed up their reasoning by saying, “The rules are the rules.” Unfortunately, the rules did not apply to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina when they, too, violated the DNC calendar by moving from their assigned dates.

As the late great Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We must adjust our ideas to the facts of today… Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”

The Florida Democratic Party has stuck to its principles throughout this debate. We’ve remained open-minded while never wavering from our commitment to an open and fair election that would allow all Florida Democrats to participate, whether serving in Iraq, retiring in Boca, studying abroad or entertaining at a theme park.

Another late great President –Abraham Lincoln, a Republican – said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

If Democrats heed this wisdom, we will win in November.

America needs a great president again, but a President McCain will settle for the status quo and carry on the disastrous Bush tradition.

President Clinton or President Obama will make history and lead this nation in a new direction.

Let’s remember this as the delegate debate continues. We must stick together as Democrats. The stakes are too high and the opportunities too great.

I will keep you posted on any major developments. Thank you for your concern and your commitment.


Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party

Filed under: Florida
soundoff (319 Responses)
  1. Lawrence

    Its funny how people on here are clamoring for Florida to count even though they broke the rules. You break the rules, you get punished. It is that simple. When a child misbehaves in school to the point of severe punishment, the punishment is handed down. Should we bend the rules to keep kids from being punished? NO! Why should we do the same at the adult level? WE shouldn't.

    Florida? Face up to the fact that your delegates do not count and if they do, that will all but hurt the party for quite sometime.

    March 17, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. Renee

    Florida doesnt have loose pieces, hanging chads just a messed up
    voting process. I voted in Florida and my ballot did not have the candidates names on it. My husband's ballot did have the names but was told by the people working not to vote for a candidate because it would not count, just vote for or against an amendment that was on the table. This is sad, because if they are going to count the ballots then they really do not have a true representation. This is once again an ongoing saga with Florida, one mess after another.

    March 17, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  3. Gavin

    That makes NO sense; what Daschle is saying. In other words; why even have a vote. What Tom really wants is Barack to win.

    HILLARY WON FLORIDA IN A LANDSLIDE and should be awarded the delegate !

    March 17, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. doug

    Looks like it's over in Texas too. Looks like results will stand, ouch.

    March 17, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. StephanTX.

    Split them down the middle. Another headache behind us, eat that BILLARY!! ;0)

    Obama 08"

    March 17, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. Eric

    This is a disgrace! Florida must have a re-vote. If they don't, I encourage all Democrats to vote Republican to teach the DNC a lesson. They knew that by penalizing the state, they were acknowledging that they would ignore millions of voters. The people of the DNC should be removed! I'm from Pennsylvania and will vote Republican if Florida doesn't get a chance to vote.

    March 17, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. Wayne

    Finally Democrats grow a spine. EVERYONE knew the rules AND the penalties. Do not break the rules if you are not prepared to face the penalty. They were counting on a spineless DNC. Those days are over. You broke the rule and thats that. Changing the rules now would be just rediculous. Stick to the rules and see how this pans out. That goes for you too MI. Actually..they should just acknowledge that though Hillary is close..SHE LOST.

    OBAMA 08

    March 17, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  8. Justin from West Haven, CT

    Sucks for Clinton. HAHA

    March 17, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  9. Jim B

    If Florida is off the table, Obama is going to win. There is no way for Clinton to catch up. Clinton needs to resign for the good of the party. Even with Obama numbers going in the tank because of the recent sleaze campaign, he still has more favorable ratings than Clinton. She cannot win. The only thing McCain has against Obama is his paster. With the economy in meltdown, there is no way that any fool would vote for the Rebugs.

    March 17, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  10. Andy

    for those that are fooled by Barrack Obama, you and your unborn children will be sorry in the coming years, I promise, remember this

    March 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. Scott Dodgson

    This is going to be a true measure of Hilary's sense of fairness and acceptance of rules. Let's see if she has the character to accept the results. I doubt it.

    March 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  12. Nathan Turner

    Anyone hear about proof coming out that Obama was indeed at one of the anti-America anti-white sermons July 22 of this year? I'm not sure if CNN will air it since they are pro Obama .

    March 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  13. Relax Joe


    March 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  14. Jay

    ""If my vote is not good enough now, why should it be any good in November?""

    That's a question best asked of your governor and your state legislature.

    March 17, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  15. M. S. Indiana

    McCain won, was that not the point from, a FL point of view ??

    March 17, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. Nathan Turner

    That was July 22 of last year. Sorry

    March 17, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. Manuel TX

    If Obama wins the nomination, and without Florida that looks likely, then he's just lost the general election.

    The voters in Florida are not going to forget this.


    March 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. senor lobo

    Are Obama and his cronies on the Democratic National Committee afraid that he can't win the nomination unless Florida voters are excluded? If Barack Obama and Howard Dean are going to nullify my vote in the Florida primary then don't count on me in the November election. If he steals the nomination by shutting out Florida democrats, he'll have to win the electoral college without us as well.

    March 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. barry

    my guess is we have have obama as president and a new chairman of the dnc come november.. howard dean will be on the unemployment line

    March 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Vicky Avare

    No Redo?? Our inept election system leaves much to be desired!
    Obamas camp must be celebrating Now the sure winner in Florida ,
    Sen., Clinton, won't catch up! Obama might win by hook or crook!
    Mc Cain gets my vote unless Hillary is on the ticket! Will Obama win by default! Who decided NO Do Over so I can vote them out!
    My vote was stolen. Irate concerned citizen from Florida . Vicky

    March 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. TC - South Beach

    It is funny to see how Florida Democrats are threatening to go and vote for Republican because they got their feelings hurt as if all of a sudden they are for the rich. Even though the Florida Governor and legislature is Republican ran and they did this, knowing what was going to happen!

    Grow up!

    You should be more upset with your own State Republican office and unite, to not only elect a Democratic President, but a Democratic Governor and legislature as well!

    March 17, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. Tehran

    Ok Obama understood the rules and didnt waste money, but Hilary want change the rules and wasted money. Who ready from day one to run a country again?

    March 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. Dave

    I find it baffling that people are projecting their anger about Florida (and Michigan for that matter) onto Barack Obama, as if he were responsible. Responsibility for that can be placed on the State governments or the DNC, but certainly not him.

    He merely wants the rules to not be changed after the game has started. Who could possibly argue otherwise with a straight face?

    March 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. Ron R

    Good........rules are rules. Hillary is the one who claimed months ago that the Florida contest "didnt count". So now we go back to square 1 which is the way it should be.

    March 17, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  25. Hank in PA

    I am canceling my trip to Florida. No reason to go to a state that cannot do any better than this. Democratic Floridians should be absolutely FURIOUS about this.

    Florida, get it together.

    March 17, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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