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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Will the DNC Hand Florida to the Republicans?

Dean and the DNC's tough stance on on Florida for scheduling a Jan. 29 presidential primary is causing quite a stir.

On one hand I can applaud his attempt to get this competition between states under control and on the other hand, as I said yesterday, it shows that as a party their survival instinct is completely missing.

The DNC's rules and bylaws committee, which enforces party rules, voted yesterday morning to strip Florida of all its delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver -- the harshest penalty at its disposal.

The penalty will not take effect for 30 days, and rules committee members urged officials from the nation's fourth-most-populous state to use the time to schedule a later statewide caucus and thus regain its delegates.

By making an object lesson of Florida, Democrats hope to squelch other states' efforts to move their voting earlier, which have created chaos in the primary structure that the national party has established. But the decision to sanction such a pivotal, vote-rich state has risks.

The party punished Delaware in 1996 for similar rules violations. But Florida, a mega-state that has played a pivotal role in the past two presidential elections, is different. The clash leaves the presidential candidates in limbo about how to campaign there.

Lets look at those risks, Florida has the fourth highest amount of Electoral votes, in 2008 it will be 27. Only California, Texas and NY have a higher number of electoral votes.

The DNC's actions would bar the Democratic presidential candidates from participating in the Florida primaries and could very well hand Florida over to the Republicans.

I am all for making a stand on principle, but when that stand could very well cost your party that many electoral votes then perhaps you picked the wrong time to take a stand.

When Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill into law that would set the new date at Jan.29, he calledthe old rules "arcane", "byzantine" and "not good for democracy", and whether he is right or wrong about that, it has definitely caused a ruckus.

From ABC:

This all started when Florida decided it did not want to be one of at least 20 states scheduled to hold primaries on Feb. 5 -- or Super-Duper Tuesday, as it has come to be known.

Florida moved its primary up to Jan. 29 -- a date already claimed by South Carolina, which promptly moved its Republican primary to Jan. 19.

But that put South Carolina ahead of New Hampshire, which according to state law must have its primary at least one week before any other "similar contest."

That would put its contest on Jan. 12. Except Michigan may move its primary to Jan. 15 -- which would then bump New Hampshire to Jan. 8.

And that would put the squeeze on Iowa -- whose first-in-the-nation caucuses could be held on New Year's Day, or even in December of this year. Merry Christmas!

The DNC has some decisions to make, since the new primary date has been signed into law, the DNC and Dean are going to have to make a decision on whether they are willing to simply hand Florida over to the Republicans on a silver platter.

Principle is a great thing, but when your principle means biting your nose off to spite your face, perhaps you need to pick your battles a little more wisely.

More from Florida Today and

[Update] Since Captain Ed explains it better than I do, here goes:

The ban would extend to the candidates themselves. If the DNC followed through on this threat, the presidential candidates would be barred from campaigning in Florida during the primaries. That would set off another dispute, as it would likely give the state to the Republicans in the general election -- and Florida has one of the largest Electoral College delegations in the nation.
[End Update]

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