Monday, March 03, 2008

Florida Governor Considers Second Primary

Florida Governor Considers Second Primary

Charlie Crist, Florida's Republican governor, says he'd support a second Democratic primary to replace the results of the state's rule-breaking Jan. 29 vote.

The revote would solve one of the Democrat's two delegate dilemmas. The Democratic National Committee punished Florida, along with Michigan, for voting before an approved Feb. 5 date by taking away all its delegates.

"I think it's very important though that those delegates are seated," Crist told CNN Sunday. "I'm hopeful that the Democratic National Committee comes to the conclusion it's the right thing to do."

The question of seating the delegates to avoid alienating voters in a large, swing state is also caught up in nomination politics. Most observers expected that a triumphant Super Tuesday de facto nominee would restore the delegates. But the race has dragged on and while Barack Obama has the upper hand, Hillary Clinton still has a mathematical path to the nomination.

Seating the Jan. 29 Florida delegation would help Clinton. While all the candidates signed a pledge not to campaign there, Clinton argued before the vote that the delegates should be counted. She won the Sunshine State over Obama, 50 percent to 33 percent (with 14 percent going to John Edwards, who quit the next day.) Clinton also held a Florida victory rally the moment the polls closed.

The move to Jan. 29 was initiated by Florida Republicans, who also control both houses of the state legislature. Democrats initially objected, but couldn't stop it. Once the date was official, they embraced it with a "Make It Count" campaign that played on memories of the 2000 general election recount.

DNC chair Howard Dean also appeared on CNN Sunday and said he was open to the solution. "If they would like to fix that problem so that we can seat Florida without any problems, of course we would like to seat Florida," he said. Dean also said Crist's offer of a new primary was very helpful from a financial standpoint. Another idea that's been proposed is a caucus, which the party would pay for. A new primary, however, would be state-funded.

Florida's stance toward the DNC on the calendar issue has been less defiant than that of Michigan, which wants to prompt a confrontation with the national party about the role of Iowa and New Hampshire in the early stage of the nomination process.

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