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. Roy

    I agree Ed!!!!!! Just who was it that got those tapes to the news about Pastor Write anyway? First degrade Obama and then take the delegates away from Hillary. Sounds fishy to me!

    March 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  2. REPinero

    Count FL as it was done! This vote was fair. No campaign from anyone and everyone on the ballot!

    March 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. Billy Sutton, Springfield, MO

    RH, what more would you like to talk about regarding Rev. Wright. I would love to hear it.

    March 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    The DNC should not have penalized Florida Democrats in the first place! This was an issue entirely perpetrated by the Republican controlled state legislature and the Republican Governor.

    Sadly, a lot of conservative minded Democrats won't forget how Mr. Dean and his cohorts handled the situation to the detriment of the DEM candidates in November.

    March 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. deb in az

    barrack ombama was on the ballot in florida and their votes should count........neither one of them campaigned in either state.........michigan should have a redo...........because barrack obama wasnt on the ballot and let it be done........the american voters had nothing to do with this business with the dnc.........punish the governer of florida mr dean not the voters........

    March 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Robert B

    Why do people keep saying Obama is not being fair? He has nothing to do with this! He didn't set the rules, he obeyed them. He wasn't allowed to campaign there and didn't. You can't expect an entire state to vote based on media coverage!

    I'm glad it's over. I hope the people of Florida understand that it's neither candidate or the DNC that did this to them, it's their state leaders. I urge them to make sure this doesn't ever happen again.

    March 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Douglas, Columbus, Ga.


    March 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. RH

    Don't forget Pastor Wright and Obama's judgement in making him a leading role in his campaign!

    March 17, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Ken

    If they are not going to revote the Primary in Florida,they need to count the votes as they are,It will be a huge mistake to not count the people of Florida,They had no controll over decisions made by the Republicans.The Democratic party as a whole will suffer,if they are not recognized.

    Hillary for President!

    March 17, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Carly

    Go Barack!

    March 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. TEH

    Perhaps the Clintons can try to get some deligates from Kabul and Baghdad to close the gap?

    March 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Towhappy

    Well the DNC already stated they WILL NOT seat the deligates as is so only thing left to do is split 50/50 or no count at all for Florida anyways so now can we please get to the issues and move on.

    Word to the wise, if you are truly a democrat, might as well vote him in now and swollow the innevitable because the Clintons' chance just went down the Florida swamp!

    OBAMA 08!

    March 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Allison Marie

    This is not a game. The careless way I hear Howard Dean speak in regards to Florida!

    If he really represents the Democratic party he is certainly not looking like a leader at all, he sounds like a spoiled school boy.

    What's happening in Florida is very serious, and will not work out for OUR party in a general election and I hope the superdelegates will pay attention to this.

    Countless in Florida

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

    How in the world is this Obama's fault?
    You Hillary supporters are so afraid of losing, you're delusional. If you want to blame somebody, blame the Republican State leadership.

    March 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. broadwayjack

    This is way Barack rolls... calm, steady, reflective, direct.

    This is the temperament and the judgment that can answer a phone of any color.

    This is the intellect and the inspiration we need.

    March 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  16. JJG

    The DNC will keep it equal, I trust that they will make the right decision. I am sure they will look at Hillary and Obama history on delagating the votes correctly.. I believe the DNC is not going to let either party loose out on the right amount of delegates.

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

    They don't need another vote. The first vote had all three major candidates onit, and none of them campaign in FL, making it a perfectly legitimate and fair race.

    Count them now!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. JT

    Florida knew the consequences.

    March 17, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  19. Steve herrick

    This is truly Unfortunate. Due to the politics as usual once again the American public get it handed to them by there elected officials. Well I hope they kick the bums out of office when their term expires

    Obama / Edwards 08

    March 17, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  20. Wayne

    You either don't count them (for breaking the rules) or just split the delegates and votes 50/50.Period and move on!

    March 17, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. Lou

    The two camps seem to be reading this statement two different ways.
    No new vote doesn't mean she will get the first vote's delegates. Everyone has already decided that issue. It means they now have to broker a deal like splitting them down the middle or not seating them at all.

    March 17, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Karen-Phoenix

    Florida and Michigan knew the rules!! Matter of fact, they were given 30 days to change their minds. Rules are rules. The votes should not count and they can try again in four years. We learn NOT to break rules in preschool!!!! What's wrong with these people?

    March 17, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. Barry

    Will Hillary incite a riot so as to insure that Obama cannot recover Fl in the general? I'm betting YES!

    March 17, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. John

    Hillary didn'y campaign so what she was there raising money, what else is that but campaigning.
    just divide the delegates 50:50 and have done with it.

    The DNC are crazy to allow hillary to continue when she faces being served with a subpeana and possibly five years for election fraud in New York etc. to attend Court sept 7th this year in California Apellant court district 7.

    Huston Obama has lift off.

    March 17, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  25. Debra

    The state can not afford to rehold the election. Obama is stealing the election because not everyones vote will be counted and he seems to be the only one with an unlimited supply of money from people waiting to ask favors of him and throw him money. That makes this whole processs meaningless unless the delegates from Florida are seated. Clinton has been robbed. She would be in the lead if they had been seated. He was the one dragging his feet saying he wanted a new election. His rep last week was smirking when she said it had to be a new election- didn't care tht all those voices wouldn't count. Win at any price to the people of Florida. How can I ever support Obama when he is the cause of this. If every vote is not counted then why bother to have an election. It's all a farce. Obama is the worst kind of politician for doing this.

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