September 1st, 2007
08:40 AM ET
12 years ago

Parties pressure '08 hopefuls on Florida

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DNC Chairman Howard Dean is trying to maintain control of the primary calendar

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The chairman of the Democratic National Committee has sent a message to the field of 2008 Democratic presidential candidates: follow the rules.

In a letter sent to candidates Friday, Gov. Howard Dean called on his party’s White House hopefuls to support a DNC decision to strip the state of Florida of its say in the nomination process if it proceeds with plans to hold its presidential primary on January 29, eight days earlier than party rules allow.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee ruled in a meeting in Washington last Saturday that Florida Democrats would lose all of their delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver unless they modified their primary plans within 30 days.

"My goal as chairman, and our objective as a party, is to structure a nominating process that adheres to rules that are clear, straightforward and published. The vast majority of states have complied with these rules," wrote Dean. "As leader of the Democratic Party, I strongly urge you to adhere to the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules."

Dean went on to describe Florida’s current plan for a January 29 primary and defended the committee’s need to maintain the party’s presidential nomination rules. I strongly urge you to do your part and support the actions of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. The RBC did one thing on Saturday: enforce the Party’s rules," he said in closing.

The former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential hopeful stopped short of calling on the candidates to boycott the Florida primary outright, but the letter nonetheless sends a warning shot to other states, such as Michigan, that are also likely to violate party rules by scheduling an early nomination contest. The Michigan state legislature passed a bill this week moving that state’s contests to January 15.

Also on Friday, the four states allowed by the DNC to hold their nominating contests before February 5 - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina - asked the Democratic field to sign a pledge not to campaign or compete in Florida if it violates party rules.  Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have each signed the pledge as of Friday afternoon.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Bob, Long Beach, CA

    Thank you Howard Dean for doing everything in your power to help the process of bringing the 2 party system to an end. With the support of the RNC and the DNC this crappy two party system will hopefully be buried and forgotten and lead to the rise of a viable 3rd party.

    One has to ask one's self what goes through Howard Deans head on a daily basis seeing as how he has no idea how to deal with people. If an actual moderate was running the DNC they could have had a bigger majority in both houses then they did. I have to thank whoever chose an idiot to head the DNC for that

    August 31, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Carolina Dude

    Instead of denying them the right to vote at the Democratic Convention, simply force them to be the very LAST primary to be held.

    That should punish them enough for breaking the rules, but still allow their delagates to vote.

    August 31, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I followed the testimony of the Florida Democratic Party Chair at the DNC hearings on C-SPAN.

    It seems clear to anyone watching that the Republican legislature of Florida selected the date, without the support of the Florida Democratic Party. I have no idea what personal axes Howard Dean or the DNC have to grind against Florida.

    I do know that we are supposed to be engaged "...in party building", and how this decision helps that cause is beyond me.

    We need to win Florida to win in 2008. To Howard Dean and the DNC I say pull this bus out of the ditch, before you cost us the next election!

    September 1, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Tracy Krumpen, Napa, CA

    Thank you Howard Dean for trying to keep the peace. You have my full support and I know you will continue to do what's best for the Democratic Party.

    September 2, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. John D. Froelich, Upper Darby Pa.

    Floridians should vote ONLY for candidates (either party) who actually care enuf to show up and campaign in the State.

    John D. Froelich
    Upper Darby, Pa.

    September 2, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  6. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have caused us more problems than their size and importance merit. Their much-praised scrutiny of the candidates gave us Bill Clinton, George Bush the Younger, John Kerry to name a few.

    We in Texas hold a primary in which we get to choose from a slate of candidates including the person who already has a lock on the nomination thanks to these three states. Those three states enjoy their positions as first for totally self-serving reasons. The candidates must warp their proposals to please the early primary voters or stick fast to their principles and lose.

    Moving all primaries up to New Year's Day is simply going to raise a whole new set of problems. A new model needs to be developed, but the problem with anything new is that those already in power are the products of the existing system and are beholden to it.

    September 3, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Edna, St. Petersburg, Florida

    I cannot believe that Howard Dean (well...actually, I CAN believe it of Howard Dean, but not of the DNC as a whole) and the DNC would be tone-deaf and clueless enough to punish every single registered Democrat in the state of Florida for a decision that the REPUBLICAN-controlled state legislature forced through! True, some Democrats in the legislature did vote for the date as well, but only because the legislation also contained important things such as a provision for a paper ballot. ANYWAY, my point is, why punish the innocent, long-suffering Democratic voters of Florida for something we had no control over? This is the most self-destructive move our party has ever made!!! They are taking an energized, fired-up, passionate, diverse, HUGE base of Democratic voters and slapping us in the face! But we must not respond by staying home from the polls, as that plays right into the Republicans' hands. No, we must go out to the primary and vote anyway, especially to defeat that horrifying property tax amendment (you know, the one that is a long-term tax increase, sold to you as a short-term tax decrease, that will be immediately devastating to cities). I think Democrats should turn out en masse, in record numbers, to send a message to the DNC that we are a huge, important voting block that cannot and will not be ignored (Gawd, I sound like Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction *lol*...but moving along!). Seriously, get out there and vote. Defeating the property tax amendment is hugely important. But vote for the presidential primary candidate of your choice, too. Somehow, our votes will count. Whether Howard Dean thinks they should or not. Apparently, he feels that enforcing some arbitrary rule is more important than winning the White House *shrug*.

    September 4, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |