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. BG - Texas

    Thank you Florida for giving John McClain your vote of confidence. A national Hero who truly believes that we did not deserve 9/11 and epitomizes "God Bless America".

    March 17, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |


    March 17, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. r

    they should just split all the delegates or florida and give half to both.

    March 17, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  4. Jim

    Sounds like the first step for Hillary finding a way to steal the discredited delegates. She only plays by the rules when it suits her. This way she can claim victory in a no contest election and take the reward. Same old politics. This is why we can not fix the problems in this nation.

    March 17, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. Anna, Florida

    Good !!! Florida Democrats lets support McCain in '08 !!!!
    He is a moderate and war veteran.

    Florida Democrats for McCain '08

    March 17, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  6. Dennis

    Sorry, Dennis. But my parents are also both in Florida and are not lifelong Dems- but will likely vote that way this year.

    March 17, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  7. Alba Bali

    Hillary should get the votes of Florida democrats. She did not campaign there either and most analysts agree that she would likely win again. VOTE HILLARY 2008.

    March 17, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. law prof

    I agree with Block - I too defended the Clintons throughout the 1990s too and I'm sick of them . . . THEY DON'T THINK THEY HAVE TO PLAY BY THE RULES . . . Dems, let get ourselves a candidate with integrity!

    March 17, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  9. Bacusla

    NO NEW PRIMARIES – NO DELEGATES AWARDED TO THE CANDIDATES – everyone returns to the drawing board.

    March 17, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. Cy

    To all you out there who believe the election in Florida should count:

    Could you please tell me why I should waste my precious spare-time on an election called a 'beauty-contest' by CNN and was clearly stated to be void? No, you can't?

    That only leaves 2 options: A second election (which obviously ain't gonna happen) or sticking to the rules BOTH (Obama AND Clinton) agreed on.

    March 17, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  11. Michael

    I hve a solution, Give Hillary 106 delegates and give Obama 104 delegates. This way the people votes count, but it does not have a negative effect on the election.

    March 17, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. jody

    Good! It is unfortunate for the voters but the rules were broken. See what happens in Michigan being that Clinton promised their Gov a Clinton Cabinet Seat. Geeeezzzzzzz! Bet something gets worked out in Michigan.

    March 17, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. JerryZ

    That pretty much killed Hillary from getting the popular vote and the pledge delegates.

    Now she needs to have the super delegates override the people's vote. I like to take some bet's that won't happen. She'll have to wait till 2016. Shoot!!!!

    March 17, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. EBC

    Thank you Jesus, I was getting sooooooo sick of all that nonsense going on down there. I'm glad that chapter is closed.

    Let's move on...

    March 17, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. Dave

    Time for Hillary to accept the Dodd solution. Everyone knows and the media is increasingly reporting that she could care less about MI or FL voters. She's interested in the supers. The DNC knows that and, therefore, she has no negotiating position here. 50/50 is the best she can do and is an enormous gift.

    March 17, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. Chuck

    Wake Up!

    I could care less who ends up being the nominee at this point. Face it the party line is the party line. We have 3 branches of government, not one.

    People are being denied the right to voice their opinions IN AMERICA!!!!

    The right to vote is bigger than either of these candidates.

    March 17, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Kimberly

    Good, count the votes!!! No one campaigned in Florida EXCEPT Obama on CNN... give Hillary her delegates!

    March 17, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  18. Jude

    Stop dreaming Floridians...basically your votes won't cout because you violated the rules, there is no re-vote so that's that!!!!Basically, the fairest thing is to split the delegates 50-50.

    March 17, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  19. am i being disenfranchised

    is cnn cherry-picking comments here that are unfavorable to obama?
    there is no profanity or mis-spelled words in my posts, yet they are not here.

    talk about bias for obama!
    this is the same reason we are just learning about obama.
    Media insists in rocking him in a cradle and staying quiet while obama sleeps?

    March 17, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  20. bummed in FL

    I didn't know when I woke up this morning that I was living in a facist state. WOW.

    March 17, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  21. EBC

    Ya' think? I mean geez what took them so long to figure this out?

    Florida SHOULD NOT BE seated. It was as simple than that AND it is still as simple as that. They knew the rules, so now they have to deal with the consequences.

    NO candidate should get any delegates!!

    March 17, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Britt, VA

    Its about time...they broke the rules and thats that. Barack never had a fair chance in FL. Im glad the democratic party is finally starting to make sense.

    March 17, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. Cy

    Dennis – your parents aren't alone. That's the same reason why I didn't vote...

    March 17, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. Jim - Tucson

    Surprise! There are some politicians who understand what RULES are about.

    March 17, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |

    I hope the results are allowed asis. And guess what Obama supporters your guy did campaign there when they knew they were not supposed too. I hope Hillary gets her share of Delegates in Florida and it will help her win the nomimation.


    The one thing Obama should not want to do is piss off a bunch of Floridians. Remeber they are HAVE BEEN THE deciding state for the Presidency!


    March 17, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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