Sunday, September 23, 2007

Leapfrog Update: Florida Won't Budge After All

Leapfrog Update: Florida Won't Budge After All

Florida Democrats have announced by email that they're staying with a Jan. 29 primary that violates the Democratic National Committee's schedule.

"There will be no other primary," state party chairwoman Karen Thurman wrote in the email, shooting down the idea that the Jan. 29 primary might be a non-binding "beauty contest" with delegates chosen in a later event. "We make this election matter," wrote Thurman. "Not the DNC, not the delegates, not the candidates, but Florida Democrats like you and me voting together. We make it count."

"Make It Count" appears to be the Florida party's rallying cry and is the theme of a new web site,, that celebrates Florida's DNC defiance.

One county leader took a direct shot at Iowa:
"On Jan. 29, 2.5 million Floridians are going to go to the polls, and that's more telling than any caucus in Iowa," said Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia. "We'll be damned for it by some, but I think we're doing the right thing."

The top six Democratic candidates have signed a pledge not to campaign in calendar-violating states, but that depends on what the definition of is is. Florida Democrats are asking for an exception for their Oct. 26-28 state convention, scheduled long before the state's GOP legislature and governor moved the primary.

The early states were less than supportive. In a letter to Florida party chair Karen Thurman this week, the chairs of early states Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina wrote:
This specific one-time request from Florida will be acceptable, if, and only if, Florida timely submits a Delegate Selection Plan that the Rules and Bylaws Committee Staff of the DNC would recommend for compliance.

That would mean submitting a plan to the DNC by Sept. 30 that provides for selecting delegates on Feb. 5 or later.

If the candidates don't come to the state convention, Florida Democrats see a silver lining. Miami-Dade chair Joe Garcia again:
Garcia points out that high-profile supporters could replace them, such as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's husband, former President Clinton.

"Who knows, we may get surprised and Obama sends Oprah down here."

USA Today reports a down-ballot factor in Florida's unwillingness to move:
Florida will vote on a constitutional amendment during its primary election that could significantly cut property taxes. Democratic party leaders felt pushing their delegate selection plan past Feb. 5 would have affected turnout in the ballot question.

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