Monday, March 17, 2008

Florida: No Do-Over

Florida: No Do-Over

"The consensus is clear," Florida Democratic Chair Karen Thurman wrote in a Monday release. "Florida doesn’t want to vote again. So we won’t."

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

The latest on the lack of a solution:

Thurman pulled no punches in Monday's screed and aimed the blame straight back at the DNC Rules Committee and at the early states:
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.

The early states moved their dates in response to Michigan's move to Jan. 15, and saw no objection from the DNC at the time. In fact, South Carolina Democrats adjusted their date from a proposed Jan. 19 to the final Jan. 26 date at the behest of the DNC.

Thurman also invoked the image of the 2000 Florida recount in bitterly noting that the Republican-backed bill that moved the Florida primary up to Jan. 29 was bill 537 -- coincidentally, the final official number of votes separating Bush and Gore in 2000.

One Florida legislator, Dan Gelber, says the resolution is up to fate. "Since an actual primary redo or a caucus are not plausible options," he wrote on his blog, "this will mean that Florida Democrats will essentially be delegating their fate to providence -- e.g. the nomination is decided before the convention -- or the good graces of the candidates themselves -- e.g. the candidates agree on a way to apportion Florida’s delegates."

A 50-50 split is one option, which has some favor in the Obama camp. Not surprising, since Obama lost the Jan. 29 vote 51 percent to 34 percent. Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City, a law professor and Democratic activist, writes of another split he calls "the least worst solution" in the Des Moines Register:
"Go ahead and violate the party's rules, seat delegations from Florida and Michigan, but allocate those states' delegates' votes according to the percentages of total elected delegates each candidate has earned nationally in rule-abiding states."

This seats the delegates, which might satisfy party elites. But it would mean that ultimately, the votes of Floridians wouldn't count.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, one of the main backers of the mail-in do-over, has another idea, one that might even fit within the rules. He has suggested that delegates be seated based on the Jan. 29 results, but with a half vote each. This would parallel the Republican penalty for states that broke its calendar rules, and the Republicans have accepted that and moved on.

The 50 percent penalty -- which some are dubbing the "Half Nelson" -- would fit within DNC rules, which have a mandatory 50 percent delegate penalty for calendar breakers -- "unless otherwise provided." The rules committee chose to otherwise provide last summer in the hopes of heading off the calendar jumping and enforcing the calendar. They could otherwise otherwise provide if they so choose when they meet next month.

This helps Nelson's candidate, Clinton, a little. Based on the Jan. 29 results, Clinton would have won 105 delegates, Obama 67 and the departed John Edwards 13. Make that 52 1/2, 33 1/2 and 6 1/2. The AP reports that Nelson discussed this idea with Clinton and Obama on the Senate floor last week.

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