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Democrats snub the Florida delegation
The party pointedly books no hotel rooms for Floridians at the convention.
By JENNIFER LIBERTO and ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writers
Published November 21, 2007
National Democrats on Tuesday released their hotel assignments for the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
And which rooms did delegates from all-important Florida get?
The Adam's Mark? Crowne Plaza? Red Lion?
Not quite. Florida got zilch.
The snub is the latest reminder of the Sunshine State's doghouse status for moving up its presidential primary to Jan. 29, violating national party rules.
The move cost the state its 210 delegates.
No delegates. No rooms.
"I am confident that our most important guests at the 2008 Democratic convention - our delegates - will be pleased with their accommodations and enjoy their stay in the Mile High City," said Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee.
Those VIPs include Guam, which scored the Sheraton Denver Tech Center - with its 24-hour fitness center and complimentary afternoon hors d'oeuvres - and American Samoa, whose 12 delegates will enjoy the outdoor heated pool at the Radisson Southeast.
Florida, the nation's fourth largest state, and, increasingly, one of its most important politically, is not a VIP. It's MIA.
"We're just following the directions by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee," Natalie Wyeth, an event spokeswoman, said from Denver on Tuesday.
"I've got to thank the Florida Legislature for this," said Tallahassee delegate Jon Ausman, virtually spitting out his words in disgust. "It was their action that created this mess."
Ausman, a delegate since 1988, is so angry he filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state, arguing the Legislature had no business moving the primary earlier than Feb. 5.
"I'm very unhappy with them for infringing on my freedom of political speech and association," Ausman said.
But Florida Democratic Party officials, who have every intention of attending the convention, said that they were not surprised by the move and that there's time and plenty of hotel rooms left.
Indeed, the national party locked in about 5,000 rooms Tuesday, but will eventually secure 17,000.
Nondelegates including support staff and the media have yet to be assigned rooms either, said party spokesman Mark Bubriski.
"As convention chair Nancy Pelosi and DNC chairman Howard Dean have said, the presidential nominee ultimately determines who attends the convention," Bubriski said.
"We are confident that the nominee will reinstate our delegation and that there will be more than adequate housing for Florida delegates and guests among the 17,000 convention hotel rooms in Denver."
Sure, like the La Quinta Inn & Suites at the Denver airport, about a half hour from Pepsi Center, where the convention will be held.
"We'd love to have Florida," said sales manager John Webster, adding he's got about 100 rooms for Aug. 25-28, and a few other locations in the Denver area. (Note to Florida delegates: call (303) 371-0888.)
"Delegates from Florida are not going to be out on street wondering where they're going to lay their head down," said Rick Boylan, a St. Pete Beach Democratic activist who used to serve as the DNC's national director of party affairs and delegate selection. "Ultimately, both parties will figure out a way to get this worked out."
Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.