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By Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor
Published February 10, 2008
With the Democratic presidential primary shaping up to be a protracted battle for every last delegate, there seems to be no good solution to the fact that Florida's Democrats stand to have no voice in picking the nominee.
But here's a new scenario some leaders of the Democratic National Committee have been talking about lately: the DNC's credentials committee this summer could decide to split Florida's delegates evenly between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
A record 1.8-million Florida Democrats voted in the presidential primary, but officially the result was meaningless. The Democratic National Committee stripped away all 210 of Florida's delegates as punishment for Florida holding a primary earlier than allowed under party rules.
Clinton overwhelmingly won Florida's primary, and supporters, including Sen. Bill Nelson, are insisting Florida's delegates should be counted. Obama supporters are saying the election was irrelevant, and some Obama backers in Florida are quietly talking about Florida having a new election - regional caucuses to divvy up Florida's delegates in compliance with the DNC rules.
Splitting the delegates evenly would effectively ignore the Jan. 29 vote, but it would also ensure neither side would have an incentive to fight the seating of Florida's delegates, because those delegates would not give either side a leg up in a close delegate contest.
"The credentials committee can recommend to reinstate the delegates and the means by which to determine the that allocation," said DNC communications director Karen Finney.
If Florida's delegates were divided up according to the Jan. 29 primary result, DNC member Jon Ausman calculates, it would be 105 delegates pledged to Clinton; 67 pledged to Obama; 13 to John Edwards and 22 unpledged "super delegates," or party leaders and elected officials who can pretty much support who they want.
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Super delegates have the power ...
Back to the looming Democratic primary debacle. There are nearly 800 super delegates nationally, and in the end they could tip the election one way or another regardless of actual votes in the primaries and caucuses. Check out Political Connections at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Bay News 9 today, when USF St. Petersburg political scientist Darryl Paulson weighs in on everything from the vice presidential prospects of Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Bill Nelson (both decent) and Jeb Bush (not so great), to the prospect of neither Clinton nor Obama having enough delegates to win the party's nomination by the nominating convention in August.
"That leaves the Democratic Party with essentially two options, neither of which are good. One is that their super delegates, the 800 elected officials and party activists, will decide who their candidate will be. And that sort of smacks of backroom, smoke-filled rooms. Nobody's going to like that," Paulson said. "The other option, of course at that time, is to restore the delegates to Florida, but then the big question is how do you do it, and how many delegates do each of those candidates get. There's no easy solution."
... And here are their identities
Ausman, meanwhile, is convinced the DNC has no choice but to recognize Florida's super delegates at the convention under the DNC charter and is trying to get them reinstated. So who are these super delegates? Here's an introduction, including their allegiances.
Uncommitted: U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor of Tampa, Allen Boyd of Monticello, Ron Klein of Boca Raton and Tim Mahoney of Palm Beach Gardens. DNC members Janee Murphee of Tampa (officially uncommitted, though she donated $2,300 to Obama),Ausman of Tallahassee,Mitch Ceasar of Plantation,Diane Glasser of Tamarac,Andy Tobias of Tallahassee,Terrie Brady of Jacksonville and Rudy Parker of Perry.
Clinton backers:Sen. Nelson. U.S. Reps. Kendrick Meek of Miami, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, Alcee Hastings of Miami and Corrine Brown of Jacksonville. DNC members Raul Martinez of Hialeah and Chuck Mohlke of Naples.
Obama backers: U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler of Boca Raton. State Rep. Joyce Cusack of DeLand.Allan Katz of Tallahassee.
Adam C. Smith contributed to this week's Buzz.
[Last modified February 9, 2008, 23:40:08]