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GOP offer to Dems: Switch parties, make your vote count
State Republicans hope to gain from primary frustrations.
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published September 26, 2007
A Florida Republican Party mailer encourages Florida Democrats to join the GOP as a way to cope with the frustration over the national party's decision to punish the state for scheduling an early presidential primary.
[Florida Republican Party]
The Florida Republican Party is happily shining the spotlight on the turmoil and infighting among Florida and national Democrats over theJan. 29 presidential primary.
If the Democrats running for president are going to boycott Florida's primary and the national party doesn't want to count the primary votes, come on over to the GOP.
"There is hope. You'll find it with the Republican Party of Florida," promises a mailer to an undisclosed number of Florida Democrats, with the registration form voters can use to switch party affiliation.
"Now - thanks to their egos and political infighting - you, as a Florida Democrat, may lose your right to vote. No delegates. No votes. Because of the Democrat rules, Democratic presidential candidates say they won't campaign in Florida - they'll only raise money here," says the mailer.
Because the GOP declined to say how many voters will get fliers, or how those voters were chosen, it's unclear if the party really expects to woo new members or is simply seizing on the moment to further publicize the Democrats' problems.
The Democratic National Committee, trying to exert some control over the nominating process, allows only four states - Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- to schedule primaries or caucuses before Feb. 5.
Because Florida Democrats won't disavow the Jan. 29 primary set by the Legislature this year, the DNC will strip the state of its 210 delegates to the national convention. Sen. Bill Nelson, himself a Democrat, said Tuesday that he intends to sue now that DNC chairman Howard Dean rebuffed the latest demand to back off the punishment of Florida Democrats.
And in case the loss of delegates weren't enough punishment to Florida Democrats, all the leading presidential candidates have pledged to the four early states not to campaign in Florida until after Jan. 29. The boycott starts Monday. Raising Florida money is fine, however, and the campaigns say they are seeing little backlash over the boycott from Florida donors.
"I did hear in Tampa that a few people pulled out because of the boycott, but it hasn't been a problem for us," said Donna Main, who expects about 75 people at her St. Petersburg home Sunday when Barack Obama raises money in Tampa and St. Petersburg. "I support Barack Obama as president of the United States, not the president of Florida."
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski brushed off the Florida GOP's efforts to capitalize on the Democratic primary turmoil: "I guess if you botch a war, fail to reduce insurance rates and have corruption coming out your ears, you've got to resort to gimmicks to get people to sign up."
Meanwhile, the primary controversy isn't keeping Howard Dean away. He's scheduled to be in Tallahassee Oct. 9 for a $100-per-person fundraiser.
Hillsborough Democratic chairman Mike Suarez burst out laughing at that news Tuesday.
"I'm not too sure that he's the best person to be doing fundraising in Florida at the moment," Suarez said of Dean.
Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report. Adam C. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727893-8241