Drop Dead or much to do about nothing?
Will Florida's January Presidential primary count for anything?
Florida politicians are already voicing their displeasure with the DNC's decision.
The Democratic National Committee sought to seize control of its unraveling nominating process yesterday, rejecting pleas from state party leaders and cracking down on Florida for scheduling a Jan. 29 presidential primary. The DNC’s rules and bylaws committee, which enforces party rules, voted yesterday morning to strip Florida of all its delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver — the harshest penalty at its disposal. The penalty will not take effect for 30 days, and rules committee members urged officials from the nation’s fourth-most-populous state to use the time to schedule a later statewide caucus and thus regain its delegates.
By making an object lesson of Florida, Democrats hope to squelch other states’ efforts to move their voting earlier, which have created chaos in the primary structure that the national party has established. But the decision to sanction such a pivotal, vote-rich state has risks. The party punished Delaware in 1996 for similar rules violations. But Florida, a mega-state that has played a pivotal role in the past two presidential elections, is different. The clash leaves the presidential candidates in limbo about how to campaign there.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said the DNC "is poised to assault the basic right of a person to vote at its meeting tomorrow." He threatened to sue the national party to prevent the sanctions from being imposed.I've been following the reaction of both the DNC and the National Republican party since this controversy first began. It isn't just the DNC that is unhappy with the change in Florida primary dates. From a post on last February 8th-
"I hope that cooler heads are going to prevail tomorrow," an exasperated Nelson said. "If they don't, and if the full DNC were to then take that position, then certainly we will have to assert what we think are important rights."
The national parties want to prevent a nationwide arms race for the earliest primary. Both parties could punish states like Florida that move their primary earlier than Feb. 5 by taking away delegates to the nominating convention. The Democratic Party could even punish candidates who campaign or advertise in states that move their primaries earlier than Feb. 5 by essentially keeping them from getting the state's vote.Then on May 21st when Governor Crist signed the legislation into law that changed the primary date.
Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Stacie Paxton said the state would lose 50 percent of its delegates and all its superdelegates — typically members of Congress. Any candidate who campaigns in Florida for a primary earlier than Feb. 5 will be ineligible for receiving any of the state's delegates, Paxton said.Basically Florida's own Senator was telling the people he was elected to represent, that their votes were worthless. I never liked Martinez taking the RNC chair from the start, and said sooner or later he'd find himself having to choose the National party or Florida.
She added that the DNC hoped to work out a separate plan with the state party, such as a caucus, to avoid the penalties.
The Republican National Committee has warned it will strip 50 percent of Florida's delegates if the state's primary is moved.
"The rules are inflexible and it doesn't matter who is running the RNC, those rules will be enforced because they are part of the rules that were crafted at the last convention and they can't be changed," RNC chairman and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez said Friday.
Party leaders say the rules are in place, in part, to keep states from constantly leapfrogging over each other to gain a greater say in selecting a president.
Read this post and you'll see that I gave both Senator Martinez and Howard Dean a Knucklehead award. Florida Republicans voted here to send a full delegation to next year's convention no matter what the RNC decides.
The primary system is far from perfect, as James Joyner at OTB notes.
I’ve noted countless times how silly the current selection process is. It simply makes no sense to give Iowa and New Hampshire, two tiny, unrepresentative states, so much power. Forcing candidates to divert so much time and money to camping out in Des Moines and Manchester kissing babies, flipping pancakes, and otherwise acting as if they’re running for mayor is simply asinine and provides no insight whatsoever on what kind of president they’d make.Yes there are rules. Who elected the people who set the rules?
But them’s the rules.
The DNC set out the guidelines long before this race started. New Hampshire and Iowa get to go first. No delegates can be awarded before those two states hold their contests. Period. I’m a policy wonk, paying only casual attention to the mechanics of delegate selection, but I’ve know that for as long as I can remember. Presumably, then, so did the Florida Democratic Party officials who decided to flout the rules to get an advantage. One imagines that they will figure out a way to move their primary to after New Hampshire’s. If not, well, too bad.
James also says-
In the meantime, if Florida Democrats learn a little something about following the rules, that’s a bonus. Lord knows, they need to.In reality it was the Republican controlled legislature and a Republican governor who passed the primary date change into law. The GOP controls both the State House and Senate by comfortable margins.
Ed at Captain's Quarters wrote-
I'm a registered Democrat, is anything DNC and RNC does going to make a difference in how I cast my vote in 2008? The answer is no.
The ban would extend to the candidates themselves. If the DNC followed through on this threat, the presidential candidates would be barred from campaigning in Florida during the primaries. That would set off another dispute, as it would likely give the state to the Republicans in the general election -- and Florida has one of the largest Electoral College delegations in the nation.
Dean's right to insist on enforcing the rules, even if Dean has gone into hiding while his Rules Committee makes the point for him. The Florida delegation voted for the DNC rules, which stipulated that a primary there before February 5th would trigger a loss of half of their delegation. The DNC now warns them that they have the option of invalidating the entire delegation if they persist in their obstinacy, a rather extreme position that would essentially render every Democratic vote in Florida's primary a waste of time. That's why Nelson argues that the Democrats want to disenfranchize Florida, a rather ironic position given all the screeching Democrats did over the 2000 election.
Recently I made this point about Florida convention delegates.
Will the RNC risk alienating Florida voters by going through with their threat to take away half the state's delegates at the National convention? Then I ask, does what happen at the convention make any difference? When was the last time a party nominee was not all but locked up before the convention? Wasn't it the 50's?(If its been more recent, let me know)While I'm not too keen on any of the major Republican contenders in 2008, I will bet $20 one of them will have the nomination sewed up before Minneapolis.I'd also point out that conventions cater to the party faithful. What goes on at these events I feel has little sway over voters. Both Democrats and Republicans get brief bounces from the convention, but in the end its a wash.
So the threats are meaningless.
Many bloggers are making hay about the DNC's decision. In reality, both parties have plans to punish Florida. So either my friends are didn't know of the news I posted above, or are conveniently forgetting it. As I pointed out with this Knucklehead, some bloggers are so partisan they are willing to lie and distort when promoting their agenda.
Bottom line- The conventions are going to be meaningless, with the party nominees sown up long in advance. Yesterday's DNC decision is much to do about nothing on the National level but not on the State or local.
One last point- The DNC and RNC by threatening Florida, is also indirectly effecting local politics down here. A major property tax referendum that is to have consequences for all Florida homeowners is to take place the same day as the primary. Also some municipalities are changing their elections to January. If Floridians feel there is no reason to vote in the Presidential primary, they may not show for the other races. If the convention decision is meaningless on the national front, it isn't on the state and local front for Florida.
Don Surber is also commenting.
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