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. mattD

    Am I seeing things or is that another biased headline news just published by CNN favoring Obama and his lead in the polls. We all know those polls are misleading and articles like that do not deserve to be headliners. In fact, Hillary is actually ahead in the Ramussen polls today by 6-points, how come CNN didn't make that headline news? Shame on you CNN, we are so sick and tired of your unfairness to Hillary. Enough is enough.

    HILLARY 08

    March 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. mary

    One more victory for McCain, disenfranchise Florida votes and he will win Florida in the general election without a doubt. No doubt a republican plan.

    March 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. RH

    How about if there was a poll run in Florida to see if the citizens of Florida would like to revote. If they win the vote, then we should do everything we can to let them revote.

    Let's talk more about Pastor Wright!

    Hillary '08

    March 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. Roy

    The Republican Gov. bent the rules in the first place by moveing the primary date up. The DNC should have interveened then! To Bad FL! At least you made your voice herd!

    March 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Jersey_Blues

    Hillary Go home.

    March 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. Women are inherently unfair

    Don't seat 'em. They can be seated after the nominee is selected on the 1st ballot. If you call otherwise, you do not believe in fair play. That is not the basis of how you play ball in the US, even if you are a women, you must have at least watched some ball games, right? Come on already.

    March 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  7. loren

    Things like this are causing me to sway away from the democratic party this year. I am independent and have major issues with states delegates not counting. Good job DNC...turn off those independents like myself.

    March 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. RJ

    Don't hold your breath, Hillary will come up with another twist...mark my words....She's like a Spoiled Brat

    March 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  9. 4 Obama NC

    I feel bad that the people of FL voices will not be heard, but I am glad that the rules are being followed. This race is spinning out of control and if a handle does not take place we might is well let Mccain in now.

    March 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  10. Billy Sutton, Springfield, MO

    Look, because the state broke the rules, if they are not going to redo the primary. Then they should not be seated. The punishment has to stand or they and others will continually break the rules knowing that they can get out of it later. The people of Florida will be able to have their voices heard in November.

    March 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. Lawrence

    Since they have decided not to hold a new primary, then their delegates should not be seated at the convention. It is a shame that Florida decided to do this and as such, the state party themselves disenfrancised many many voters.

    March 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  12. Jay

    Let the Florida votes and delegates stand and be seated. Hillary won by over 300,000 votes. So why do the Obamabots want a 50/50 split.? The voters chose Hillary over Obama by a huge margin. If the vote and delegates are not counted, Florida will vote McCain in the general.
    Since they will not have a do over, I am sure they will get their voices, votes and delegates heard and counted.

    Hillary 08

    March 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. p shaffer

    The question is this. If Barak Obama is so bad at judging the character and intentions of a man he has known for 20 years, how are we to belive that he can judge the nature and intentions of foreign political leaders such as the ones he want to go visit in Iran and North Korea?

    If in fact he did not know this man's nature and comments, which I find hard to believe, then we should be truly concerned about his ability to lead this nation. If in fact he did know, which his campaign indicates, and did nothing, then he is a liar.

    Either way,,he is not our next president. And I am a Democrat. If he gets the nomination, I will vote for McCain.

    March 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. block

    Well. I defended the Clintons throughout the 90s. Now, I know why people dislike them so much. They just don't think they have to play by the same rules everyone else plays by. Hillary signed an agreement that the election would not count. She also agreed not to campaign there. And last Sept. talked about how the results would not count. But she held two fundraisers in Fla. during which she gave political speeches right after losing so miserably in S.C.

    We have never voted for Republicans before. But the Clinton dynasty needs to be put behind us. The current sub-prime mess goes back to laws signed by the first Clinton. They have become the faces of corporate America, as her earmarks demonstrate. r

    March 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. a face in the crowd..

    The reason why this is not going to happen is because the race is over. The politicians, superdelegates, and the GOP know it. Watch which D-candidate becomes quiet and you will know who's going to lose.

    March 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. Kevin,FL

    i hope the find a solution, because i want my vote to count

    March 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. Chris Saffadi

    This is total nonsense. I have never voted for a Republican but if Florida doesn't have a revote and my vote in the primary didn't count, then John McCain it is. Sorry Democrats, you just lost Florida in the National vote in November. Good luck with the Election. Maybe we'll try again in 4 years.

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. fredrick amukonyi

    Democracy and fairness matters alot. Less see what our DNC will go with. I have faith they will make the right judgement that will not split the party. The fair way will be revoting or forgetting a bout the Florida votes.

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. Rosey

    People you are fighting over a 38 delegate difference. Hillary wouldn't lead the delegate count with 138 delegates. Do you really want McCain? This internal fighting will only benefit him!

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. zack,

    Hillary Power greedy, Clintons, we see through you. You want the power because you have Donation outmatching American people interest. Tell those you want to repay to give it up!!

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. bernd

    would Hillary be fighting this hard to get illegal vote to count if Obama actually got most of the votes and deligates In Florida? How can she say it was fair when she said she would abide by the rules and the vote shouldn't count and Obama wasn't even on the ballot. She must think this is like Cuba. If you get all the votes you automatically win, even if no one else is on the ballot.

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Linda

    Once again Florida is making a mockery of the election process! The political leaders of the state knew the rules and chose to make up their own thereby negating the votes of the people. Shame on them! After the 2000 election debacle and the ensuing ruination of the economy...well anyway...

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. Ronald

    Let's see how they resolve the delegates! i still think they should strip all superdelegates from Fl and MI!!!!

    March 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. kay gallist

    Bravo!! The first rational news out of Fl since the 2004 election.

    March 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Jeff

    Good.. The Republicans were responsible for this mess in the first place. Now all the Florida Dems need to do is go to Howard Dean and say "Either seat the delegates, or you give Florida to the Republicans, and if you do, there might as well not be any Democrats on the ballot in the first place".

    March 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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