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. Alba Bali

    I will vote Republican if Obama wins because of Floridas votes taken away, everyone knows Hillary would win florida again so enough with rules argument. If you care about rules why argue about superdelegates voting for Clinton. Let them vote their will if you obama supporters are such rule oriented.

    Vote Hillary

    March 17, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. J Norman

    So I guess the Florida Democrat voters, who bear no fault in this and will understandably be ticked off, will go Republican in November. Sad situation and pathetic that the Democrats couldn't resolve it for their constituents.

    March 17, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Arkansas Undertaker

    I agree with the decision. Florida knew the consequences.

    They didnt follow the rules so TUFF!!!!!!! DEAL WITH IT.


    March 17, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. doug

    Florida got what Florida elected, nothing, just what thier govenor wanted them to have.

    March 17, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  5. Craig a Democrat in Texas for Obama

    Let us not forget that it is Florida whose local government broke the rules by pushing up primaries. They got what they deserved. Let us move on cause this is just tearing my Party apart. Oh yea dont forget about the CNN poll that shows 52% of registered Democrats prefer Obama instead of Hillbilly

    March 17, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. Willie

    Well, if Obama is the nominee, I would like to be the first to say congratulations to McCain on a landslide victory. By the way, has anyone remembered that Presidents have spiritual advisors and if Obama was to win the nomination, his spiritual advisor would have been an anti-american pastor.

    March 17, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. La Petite Sorciere

    Hillary can not for now steal this election...........yaaaaaaaaaaaaahooo

    March 17, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. Travis-NC

    Split the delgates or don't count them at all. Florida knew the rules. Plenty of democrats didn't vote, because they knew the rules. If you wanna talk about losing Florida in November, then that's just ignorance. It's generally a red state anyway. Get the heck over it and unite.

    March 17, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Split the delegates 50-50. It is only fair. Hillary may have won but Obama never campaigned there so the public did not have the opportunity to get to know him. We all know Hillary.

    Go Obama!

    March 17, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. RJB2

    This is a shame for all the voters
    But The Florida Government did this to themselves
    Rules are Rules...They are not good rules...
    And they knew what the outcome would be if they did

    Florida voters should kick out all the idiots who made this mess

    Well...there is always 2012...if they do not screw that one up too

    March 17, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. horace from The Golden State

    Is common sense nonexistent in clinton supporters. You should all go to law school and also take a 100 question test on common sense. Your comments are really appalling.

    March 17, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. mary

    Good call,,, bye, bye Billary

    March 17, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Oh yes, I forgot, Florida democratic voters allowed the republican party in their state to railroad them. They should not blame Obama, the party or even Hillary. It was the republicans.

    March 17, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  14. Jim in FL

    The Republicans in Florida at least had HALF a brain, and decided to seat HALF the normal delegation prior to the first primary vote. If the Democrats are "disenfranchised", then I guess the Republicans are HALF disenfranshised .... NOT !! Live by the rules Democrats. You blew it by HALF !!

    March 17, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Sonja

    I am not only a resident of Florida,I am a citizen of the United States.Every citizen who votes has the right to have their vote counted .We the people,the residents of Florida ,did not make the decission to move the primary up.The Florida Governor did.The thousands of people who stood in line and exercised their constitutional right to vote should not be punished for the Governors mistakes.If he was to go out and rob a bank,would it be fair to punish every resident of the state?I didn't think so,and for our vote not to be counted is not fair.

    March 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Dan

    God, Florida is a dysfunctional state. First you arrogantly break the rules and cut in line. You knew the consequences of doing that. Everybody did. Now you want to change the rules.

    Blame your own friggin' politicians for screwing you. It's not anybody else's problem but your own. Don't even think of blaming Obama for your ineptitude.

    Your state is the laughing stock of the country.

    March 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. Tim

    Good, another avenue to cheat by the Billary campaign is shut down Now it truly will be impossible to catch him on delegates, states or # of votes cast.

    So now all she has is what there should be....she has to win the rest of the states by 67% or better to ctach him.
    Game...set...match Obama.

    March 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  18. Obama Supporter

    Good Job Dems...

    March 17, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  19. mary

    CNN I dare you to publish this comment.

    I am ashamed of you,. Why is Wolf Bulitzer running pastor Wright's select portions of his sermons over and over and over and over. You would think CNN was for Hillary. I used to watch CNN,but not any more.
    Talk about the real issue the ECONOMY. America if going under and CNN is helping out. Just like Rush asked all republicans to vote for Hillary. his reasoning, McCAIN can beat Hillary. Let the american people have their say for once.

    March 17, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  20. Dolores

    So: "he 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"

    and, you people still think this is the candidate of change?

    I hope none of you are disappointed when he turns our to be another George w. Bush.

    Now the media is being a little hard on him and he always has an excuse.

    You know the Florida votes may not end up counting now but they will sure be counted come the general election.

    If my vote is not good enough now, why should it be any good in November?

    March 17, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. George from Mineapolis

    GOOD... Now I hope these people can accept their punishment and SHUT UP...

    The delegates will be seated.... AFTER THE NOMINEE HAS BEEN CHOSEN.

    March 17, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. cathy

    What's the point of seating the delegates if it is done in a way that does not alter the outcome?

    March 17, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  23. Mark R. / Bonn, Northhein-Westfalia, Germany

    What a nice piece of doo-doo we have here.

    The state parties in both Florida and Michigan decide to spit at their own parties and break the rules, knowing full well that they would be penalized for their actions.

    In an age where every politician loves to talk about accountability, then it's time to put the butter with the fish, here!!

    Those idiots in both of those states made a stupid mistake and must pay the penalty. That simple. Stop the bellyaching about "democracy" and "the peoples' voice must be heard" and start thinking about "responsibility" and "honesty" and "playing by the rules".

    God, this is just disgusting. Why the hell have rules when any Tom, Dick and Harry can break them? Why the hell have teachers and ministers try to instill ethics in our young people when all they have to do is turn on the TV or go online and see this travesty?

    If we want to have presidential elections (and re-elections) that will soon take up 3 out of every 4 years, then just stay on this road. Watch out: the primaries for 2012 will start in the summer of 2009 this time!!! Florida is just dying to get ahead of Iowa.

    Disgusting, just disgusting.

    If democrats in FLA and MI are pissed off, then they should be pissed off at the state officials who made this stupid decision and then they should fire those individuals!

    March 17, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. Judith

    Good, it's about time the rules are followed.... If the Fla vote were to count it would be totally unfair, Obama supporters many of which do not vote because they knew the rules and followed them, so even the votes would not show a clear winner in the state.... Let Hillary cry a river, the vote was against the rules that they themself voted for then broke the rules.... She had name reconigtion , Obama was a new face on the block....

    If Hillary lost the vote in Fla. she would be the first one yelling " they broke the rules, so it don't count ".... to bad Billary ...THEY DON'T COUNT, THEY DID BREAK THE RULES....

    I am so tired of everyone bending to Queen Hillary.... We already have a King Goroge in the White House.... Now lets ALL JUST ELECT A PRESIDENT TO THE USA..... TIME TO OVER THROW THE KINGS AND QUEENS....IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE......OBAMA 08

    March 17, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. Justin

    Florida made the right decision. No re-vote! Let's hope Michigan does the same thing.

    March 17, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
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