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. Cj From Seattle

    One word. GOOD.

    March 17, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Martin in PA

    Whether or not you agree with the original DNC "punishment", the rules were made, they were known to the states ahead of time, they were signed off on by all candidates.

    Rules are rules. No changing in the middle of the game. Sorry, Hillary, but your "rules of convenience " (your convenience that is) CAN'T HAPPEN.

    March 17, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  3. Grif

    I guess you're doomed.... Why say more ....

    I guess you are intent in getting it wrong!!!! Once Again

    Recession ....? Let me know again in another 15yrs.

    Jumping out of Windows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  4. Kathy

    They voted fairly. Let the votes count as is. Next time the Democrats should let all of the democrats across the nation understand what would happen. No half votes or complaints about campaigning or people not voting because they thought it wouldn't count.
    COUNT the votes and seat all of the delegates. That is fair.

    March 17, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  5. GirlTexas


    March 17, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. A&A

    too bad for the people saying that they didn't vote because it was not going to count...THE DNC should honor the time and initiative of its members in Florida that voted anyhow...IN RECORD NUMBERS...too bad for Obama...the original vote should stand

    Hillary 08

    March 17, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. Don, San Francisco

    In a word: Good.

    March 17, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Vote Responsibly08

    Whats fair is fair..Hillary should get the delegates due her.
    The rules, no compaigning, neither campaigned/// Hillary won

    If it would have been the other way around we surely would not even be discussing this...

    March 17, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. kelly WI

    The dems in the legislature all voted for it. Then the gov signed it.

    March 17, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Betsy, Chicago

    the quotes ( from my post above ) are from Mark Shield's blog....

    March 17, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. Hemant

    I am democrat and now I am sick and tired of this Florida and Michigan election controversial thing. Easy way is vote for republican. Plain and simple. May be lot of democrat thinking same as me now.

    March 17, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. P. Mason

    . . .Florida and Michigan, "CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER".

    March 17, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  13. CMD, Winter Park, Florida

    If Obama wins, I'm voting McCain. Barack has shown absolutely no interest in having Floridians' votes count. He's dissed us just the same as he dissed Michigan, and for that, he should lose.

    March 17, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  14. kelly WI

    What about the other guys who were running at the time.?
    No 50/50 now.

    March 17, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. Nowhere Man

    I've heard that they will be seated, but they have to all sit in the corner, and be very, very, very, very, very quiet while the others are voting ….. shhhhhhh.

    We'll now see what kind of backbone Dean has .....

    Obama '08!

    March 17, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  16. A&A

    all the talk about RULES BEING BROKEN HERE...funny nobody mentions the rules about the superdelegates...they can vote for whomever they choose...DIDN'T OBAMA TRY TO BREAK THAT suggesting that pledged delegates should influence the superdelegates? and how many have switched because of that pressure so far? WAKE UP PEOPLE


    March 17, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. Antoine

    Great idea... Let's split the Florida votes 50/50, that's democratic?

    March 17, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. Ken

    Great NEW for OBAMA !!!

    OBAMA 08

    March 17, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Jay from Brooklyn, New York

    (originally posted))
    Jay from Brooklyn, New York March 17th, 2008 6:29 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Personally, I see this is as a slap in a face. How can a republican run state governements decision to move up their states primary for pure political ego boost, deny the democrats in the state of Florida a voice in its democratic nomination. Its ridiculous to think that a compromising decision couldnt have been brought to the table in time. Whether it've been a revote, or something other then this "take that," mail in system they had in mind, the elected officials representing the people of Florida owed their citizens more. More then the mere ego boost they wanted. Unless some change of plans comes up in the very near future, this will be another dent in the chest of the democrats in the state of Florida. As a democrat I expected more, but as a citizen I know its expected…by now.

    March 17, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  20. Florida voter

    Yeah, many are saying that many people in Florida didnt vote because it wouldnt count. The reality is that a record number of voters did vote. VOTE HILLARY 08!

    March 17, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  21. Jeff

    They just disenfranchised every single voter who chose not to vote in a primary which they knew wasn't going to count. Are those people who chose to cast ballots for a primary which would be meaningless truly representative of the state of Florida as a whole? I would think not.

    Regardless, its over...although we wouldn't dare do the same thing with Michigan, where Obama was not even on the ticket, would we?

    March 17, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Grif

    What did really happen between : 1918 and 1929. Is just about anyone's guess....

    Still there's no place for guess-work this time around.

    March 17, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. Adam

    It's silly this is even up for discussion? Seriously? The rules were set before this whole thing started. Obama agreed to them, Hillary agreed to them. If we give Hillary the delegates what's next? I have a suggestion, from this point forward in baseball after the 5th inning if your team is losing you get 4 strikes rather than 3...

    March 17, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. Cindy

    Florida government sabotage... at their people's expense. I feel bad for the people of Florida, but total disgust for their officials.

    DNC, stick to your guns, don't let the saboteurs get to you.

    And Hillary... don't grandstand.

    March 17, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  25. katie

    Florida democrats dont want new election as far I have heard people talking.We had totally legimate election,we voted as we would do again.We had enough imformation and knew who we voted.
    I'am glad that nonsense is finally settled. Delegates need to seated as they were voted.

    March 17, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
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