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. Realistic

    This is the worst case for Hillary - Michigan gets a do-over while Florida goes nowhere. Obama will do great in Michigan.

    Now hear the Mad Old Feminists and Geezers With Wheezers rage in vain.

    March 17, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Bridget

    Seat the delegates!!!!PLEASE!!!

    March 17, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  3. Hillary Just Stole Florida

    Is anyone surprised that the Hillary supporter wants to keep the status quo? The apple does not fall far from the tree. If the leader cheats, her followers will cheat.

    Florida's "primary election" speaks volumes as to why Hillary should not be our next president. She cheats–end of story.

    Obama 08

    March 17, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. Frank, San Diego

    So let me get the Obamanistas' argument straight.

    In the future, all Republicans have to do to disenfranchise Democrats is get control of a state's legislature and then force a primary on that state's Democrats that violates DNC rules.

    Why are you guys doing the work of Florida Republican's for them?

    March 17, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. Dave

    How many elections can Florida f up??!!

    Here's what happens:

    Florida Republican puppet/governor Charlie Crist falls in with the party to help Hillary get elected.

    The entire Republican base that has been supporting Hillary votes for McCain in the general.

    Four more years of the last THIRTY YEARS.

    Wise up people.

    March 17, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. Dj

    Great. I'm glad we all agree. A re-do would be the dumbest thing in the world. Face it, Florida and Michigan broke the DNC rules. They knew the penalty for doing so. We should not have to stand and count their votes.

    March 17, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. Chris

    What's with you Florida? You used to be cool. Pre 2000's. Now...Blech.

    March 17, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Paul

    Does anyone honestly think Florida would vote for a Democrat in the national election? Don Schula could win 14 straight caucuses and they'd still elect the Republican. If they can figure out how to count the results, that is.

    March 17, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. Betsy, Chicago

    In 2004 when Michigan threatened to "go outside the primary window" Terry McAuliffe told U.S. Senator Carl Levin, "If I allow you to do that,the whole system collapses,we will have chaos". Now, as the chair of Senator Clinton's campaign he forgets all that. Now he thiks it's" fair ".

    March 17, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. Tracey

    The election should stand as the people have already voted.

    March 17, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  11. Mr. B.

    I'm sure the Clintons will think of some way to manipulate this one !

    Honesty......Integrity...we are talking about the Clintons folks !

    March 17, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. kevin from alaska

    If they seat delegates for primaries that "didn't count" they will disenfranchise far more voters than otherwise.

    March 17, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  13. James Wells

    Here is what I hear concering the pastor of Sen.OBAMA.There is a lot of ".I found something to stop Him with".Please tell me why is what my pastor say "other than the word of GOD",What I believe or what I agree with! SEN.OBOMA is trying to RISE ABOVE SOMETHING, but the news is trying to hold HIM there " LET HIM GO"

    March 17, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. Eileen

    This is not Democratic! All votes should be counted just like mail in votes do! Neither candidate campained there so count them on the date their primary was suppose to take place. What difference does it make? If FL is not counted Obama can count me out too!

    March 17, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  15. Help Yourselves

    Poor Florida, they should have started voting for 2008 right after the 2004 election. Here it is 2008, and they still don't have their act together.

    Well, we'll leave the lights on for you in November. There's some cake and milk in the fridge.

    March 17, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. Merrin

    THis is not an accident. Nothing at this political level is.
    I say no more.

    March 17, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  17. La Petite Sorciere

    The Billary Clinton Camp has already started law suits... but she does not say in the affidavit, that she (in the frist place) agreed to not having the votes counted...
    again, she will flip flop hoping someone will take her side......... later she will say those votes dont count anyway, once it is shown that she agreed to this whole thing...........
    SHame on you Hillary

    March 17, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Mr. B.

    It is my understanding Michigan is going to have another vote.

    Are they smarter than Florida ?

    I guess that is why you go to retire !

    Better luck next time.

    March 17, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  19. Slap Stick, FLORIDA

    My Goodness, We have Snub Heads in Florida as leaders. Just split the delegates. Hillary should be happy about this because even though she won Texas, she still ended up with less delegates. Same thing could happen to her in Florida now that more people are watching Obama.

    March 17, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |

    mr obama is doing whats is precher ask.

    March 17, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. Ivory Tickler

    That this was even a question or issue is frightening. A rule was proposed and voted on by the people of Florida and they chose not to have a seat at the DNC this year. Same holds true for Michigan. So why woul;d this even come into question regarding whether Florida be seated or not?

    Ohhhh.... the Clintons are involved? Well now, that makes a little more sense doesn't it.

    March 17, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  22. tdo

    The DNC 's stance on this doesn't matter as much as which candidate is seen as not wanting these votes to count. And that candidate won't be popular with these 2 states in november.

    They should count the vote already taken and move on and obama should ask that it be done that way. Otherwise he will not win these states if nominated in the GE.

    March 17, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. John, Las Vegas, NV

    Well, look at the bright side of things. At least the chad mess with Bush and Gore looks pretty trivial now compared to how the Democrats without any help from the Republicans has made Florida and Michigan both into a total election mess.

    March 17, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  24. Voice

    It is likely that by the time of convention Obama has more than 2024 delegates and Flordia delegates are no longer relevant. It is time for the superdelegates to step up now!

    March 17, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  25. Randy

    I think you Clintonites are forgetting that Hillary Clinton only won Florida with 50%, with Obama and Edwards splitting the other 50%. With Edwards out, the only logical solution would be to seat the Florida delegates as to not disenfranchise them, but give half to Clinton and half to Obama. Someone needs to propose this 50-50 solution to the DNC.

    March 17, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13