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DNC's foolish slighting of Florida
By A TIMES EDITORIAL
Published August 28, 2007
The Democratic National Committee's message to more than 4-million Florida Democrats couldn't be clearer: You don't count.
The refusal by national Democrats over the weekend to recognize the state's Jan. 29 presidential primary and seat any Florida delegates to the national convention is foolish and small-minded. In rigidly enforcing rules regarding a primary schedule that already is a mess, they lost sight of larger goals - such as selecting a nominee for president who has been tested in a large, ethnically diverse state and laying the groundwork for the general election.
There is no easy response to such narrow thinking. The Republican-controlled Legislature is not about to move the primary back to Feb. 5, which is where it should have stayed. Holding some sort of Democratic caucus, the solution urged by national Democrats, would be absurd. This isn't Iowa, where the overrated caucuses draw far fewer Democrats than there are in Pinellas County alone.
The situation is further complicated by the constitutional amendment on property taxes that will be on the Jan. 29 ballot. This is an incredibly important issue that will have long-term ramifications for the state's future. Independent voters already were at a disadvantage, because they can't vote in the presidential primaries and will have one less reason to go to the polls. If Democrats conclude there is no reason to vote in their primary, they also might be less inclined to take the trouble to vote on a single amendment. Deciding the fate of the property tax amendment in an election where the turnout may be lower than expected and less reflective than normal of the overall electorate would not be in the state's best interest.
Florida Democrats should not be backed into a corner and allow voters to be disenfranchised. They should proceed with the primary as scheduled and encourage voters to go to the polls. The winner of Florida's Democratic primary will see to it that those votes mean something. And when the national party convention rolls around next August in Denver, the alphabetical tally of delegates isn't going to jump from the District of Columbia to Georgia and skip the Sunshine State.