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Please give us a break, Democrats say
Florida'sparty begsearly primary states to allow candidates to attend the state convention.
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published September 22, 2007
You might think Florida and national Democrats could not look any more hapless fighting one another over whether Democrats' votes should really count in the state's Jan. 29 presidential primary.
Listen to this.
The leading Democratic presidential candidates had already promised to boycott Florida's primary because the early date violates the national party schedule. Now the Florida Democratic party has begged the officially recognized early primary states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, to give them a break and let the candidates attend Florida's big party fundraiser next month.
Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman wrote Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada asking that the Democratic presidential contenders be allowed to come to the Florida Democrats' state convention at Disney World on Oct. 26-28.
The response? Only if Florida complies with national party rules and disavows the Jan. 29 election date.
And, it gets worse. Even if Florida Democrats do comply with national party rules on the scheduling matter, the early states say having the candidates attend the state convention would be a one-time-only waiver.
The boycott remains in effect. Raising money in the Sunshine State is okay, but the candidates do anything else at their peril.
"Our caucusgoers and voters will monitor the candidates and media coverage and will ultimately decide whether the campaigns are keeping their promises," said the Sept. 18 letter from the Democratic leaders of the four early states.
Florida Democrats have one more week to come up with a plan to comply with the Democratic National Committee's rules, or the Florida Democrats stand to lose all of their 210 delegates to the national convention. Options under review include organizing a later, alternative system for divvying up Florida's delegates, such as a series of caucuses, another state convention, or vote by mail system.
"In over 30 years of my activity I cannot remember the last time a party issue has loomed as large as this one. ... Everybody is very frustrated," said former Florida state party chairman Mitch Ceasar. "I feel like a dog politically chasing my tail in a circle, and the closer I get to catching the prize the farther away it becomes."
Republicans have been aggressively mobilizing and courting Florida voters, while Democratic candidates have been wary of doing anything to antagonize party leaders in those early nominating states.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign even refused recently to send a letter of greeting to a Jackson County Democratic picnic for fear of violating his pledge to the four early states.
Thurman, meanwhile, has frustrated some party activists for being mum about what, if any, progress is being made to find a solution.
"If we had a plan to announce we would tell you," said Florida Democratic spokesman Mark Bubriski.