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. man in MN

    I guess this means Florida is going Republican this fall...

    March 17, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. Anita Marie

    I would suggest that those 'millions' of Clinton supporters in Florida get together and do something about their Elected Officials-like I don't them out of office maybe – so that this doesn't happen again.


    March 17, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. NO Obama

    I recall sitting in a chair flipping through CNN and MSNBC while visiting family in Naples Florida, just before the primary. Low and behold... what do I see... an OBAMA commercial, ON CNN as well as MSNBC... right there in Florida. I thought Hum, I thought no one was to have been campaigning in Florida yet there it is, right in front of me, OBAMA's commercial...

    AND HE STILL LOST.. So what does this tell you?

    March 17, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Maya

    You can't count the votes as they stand as they stand anyways...if you're talking about disenfranchising voters let's hear it about the ones that stayed home?

    March 17, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. Roger B from Portland, OR


    I am going to try and explain this very slowly.

    Florida agreed to the primary rules. Florida then violated those rules by moving their primaries up and were thusly penalized. By running for the nomination, Obama agreed to follow the rules by not campaigning and accepting the DNCs results.

    How is it his fault?

    March 17, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. finally not going to happen

    well Florida democrats decised they can't do it. Everyone get over it and move on.

    March 17, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. Joshua Englander

    Listen, I wish Florida could have a redo to get this mess over with, but I am ENTIRLY blaming this mess on the Florida governer. He's a republican, so OF COURSE HE's gonna say NO. I hate him, and he just wants John McCain to beat whoever the democratic nominee is. Well, at least Michigan is onto something, at least we'll get their vote in November.

    Obama 08

    March 17, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Tubby The Tuba

    Darryl March 17th, 2008 5:50 pm ET

    Maybe us Democrats just need to vote for McCain.

    McSame will need your vote! So go ahead and vote and throw your vote away again. Thanks for going back on your word. Just you forget about a national health insurance program.

    March 17, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. ellie wallace

    I would not only change my registration to independent but I would tell the Democriot party that if they can't except my vote on the primary then I will not vote democrate in the gerneral election
    Ellie , Michigan

    March 17, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. Louis

    Earth to Clinton supporters:

    Your candidate agreed a year ago that the delegates from Florida would not count. The voters knew ahead of time that their votes would not count. Case closed.

    March 17, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Mandi Locke

    If the people of Michigan and Florida want someone to blame, they should blame their own governors! They should still be seated, but you can hardly call the vote in Florida fair and Obama wasn't even on the ticket in Michigan. Nobody had a problem with them not being seated until Hillary fell behind in the race. Nobody cared about them before that.

    OBAMA 08!!! YES WE CAN!!!

    March 17, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Claire Canada

    Well sorry to say that is a reality check when u break the rules u get punished and that is the bottom line.They knew if they moved their primaries what would happened so now they have to except the consequences and deal with it..U can bet that the Clinton campaign will be yielling and screaming if they don't count and I just hope that what ever happens it will be fair all around .

    March 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. Life28SBK

    Hillary is about to Cry Us A River!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Susan

    Does Hillary know that if she becomes the Democratic Nom that most people will vote for McCain?

    This country is disgusted with her already.

    March 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. Francie

    Since there will be no re-vote in Florida, count the voters that did vote.

    March 17, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. Life28SBK

    Florida is like one of the worst staes as far as voting... First that whole Bush- Florida thing and now this... They need to get it together.

    March 17, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. Guy

    "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." – President Bill Clinton

    This typifies old politics, Democrat or Republican. Double-speaking rhetoric. The voters in Florida should oust every elected state official for not allowing votes to count. As for Hillary – do you want the same old rhetoric from a career politician or a new fresh face?

    March 17, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. JFK

    Whether Florida revotes or not, the race is not over. This may be hard for many to accept but if Obama wins the popular vote, he may still not get the nomination. If Obama wants to follow the rules set in place, then if he is short on the pledged delegate side, he will need to accept the superdelegates decision no matter what it may be. If more superdelegates support Clinton, thats is their choice. These are the rules in place and many people may not like it, but lets accept the whatever comes from this. Plain and simple to him and everyone else. Maybe then we can move on then to November.

    March 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. Sophie

    The US is supposed to be a democracy. It can't be one without the input of all the people. That's right, ALL the people. Florida is the forth largest state in the country- someone tell me that all the people in Florida 'don't count'. Puhlease! This is not a democracy unless every body gets to have their vote counted.

    Wake up people. We want real change, not fancy words and long winded answers that don't even answer the question.

    Make the right choice.

    Hillary Clinton '08

    March 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. Not Given

    Let the republicans have Florida already. Let's face it, they voted for Bush in the last two presidential elections, or at least allowed the courts for vote for them and odds are very strong that they will vote for McSame. I think the DNC should just write off the entire state.

    At least Michigan is worth fighting for and they have the brains to figure out how to do a re-vote.

    March 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Venus

    Both of the candidates were on the ballot they should just count the results they already have. Hillary won fair and square!! Come on and let florida's vote count. As for Michigan it's not Hillary's fault Obama took his name off the ballot. i guess he figured Michigan wouldn't count so why even bother.

    March 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  22. Nikole

    I have LOTS of family in FL that did not vote (for Obama) b/c they knew it did not count.
    It is also important to note that Obama's numbers increase significantly after he has traveled to a state and met with the people there. Even if he lost a revote in FL, it would be a much closer contest.

    March 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Dave

    Seat 1/2 the delegates according to the vote (like the Republicans) and seat the other half 50% for Obama 50% for Clinton. This would draw attention to the fact that the Republicans also punished Florida and Hillary would only gain about 15 delegates thus not disturbing the overall delegate count.

    March 17, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. JOE TANG

    I just expressed my opinion on Tibet, no violation, very polite, why did you delete my input? only because I didn't support Tibet violence?

    March 17, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  25. Dave

    Seat 1/2 the delegates according to the vote (like the Republicans) and seat the other half 50% for Obama 50% for Clinton. This would draw attention to the fact that the Republicans also punished Florida and Hillary would only gain about 15 delegates thus not disturbing the overall delegate count.

    March 17, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
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