Early Presidential Primary creating havoc for Florida Democratic Party

05/04/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Although Governor Charlie Crist, Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, and other Florida politicians say they’re thrilled with the move to push Florida’s Presidential Primary next year all the way up to January, many others are not.


That includes some Florida Democrats, who fear sanctions from the Democratic National Committee.  Under DNC rules, any state that selects its delegates before February 5th without approval will suffer the following: Democratic presidential candidates would not be allowed to campaign or raise money in the state. Florida would lose half of its more than 200 delegates. And its "super" delegates, mostly members of Congress and other party leaders, would not be able to cast a vote at the national Democratic convention.


State Party Chair Karen Thurman said that Democrats may consider have a statewide caucus on February 12th, rather than January 29th, to escape DNC penalties.  Also, she apparently will lobby with DNC Chair Howard Dean and others that the new law was approved by the Republican led legislature.


Mark Bubriski is a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.  He says the Party has nearly a month to submit its Delegate selection plan (roll tape#1 o.q.”uh, huh”)


But although Florida political insiders say the earlier Primary will be good for the state, because it will allow it to have more influence than it has in most Presidential election cycles, nationally, it is being looked at with disdain.


William Galvin is the Secretary of State in Massachusetts, and the leader of a National Association of Secretaries of State Committee that opposes the movement toward earlier primaries.  He says that Florida’s move could compel New Hampshire, traditionally the first state in the nation to vote, to move their Primary to the end of THIS year
(roll tape#1 o.q.”very unfortunate”)


Several other states, such as California, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have recently moved their Presidential Primary date to February 5th.  Now they could still behind the curve because of Florida’s move.


But Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin says they’re could be a silver lining for some of those states who have yet to move up their Primaries.  He says because of the excessive front loading of voting, if there is a contested primary, those later states will have more influence (roll tape# 2o .q.” intended”)

For years, political analysts have agreed that it’s unfair that New Hampshire and Iowa have had disproportionate influence over the selection of Presidential running mates, because of their 1st in the nation voting status.  But political pressures on candidates needing to be successful in those states has led to inertia in changing the system.  The Democratic National Committee thought they had addressed the problem last year, when they announced that Nevada and South Carolina, states representing the west and South , would be allowed to move up right after Iowa and New Hampshire.


But those plans have all gone awry.  The group that Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin represents, the National Association of Secretaries of State, have been working on a proposal to have regional primaries, where 1 quadrant of the nation would be able to all vote first in the nation, and have that rotated every 4 years (roll tape# 3 o.q.”right way to pick a president”)


In the legislation passed yesterday, a  last-minute amendment was offered by state House Minority leader Dan Gelber, to move the primary to February 5th. That was an effort to show the DNC that Florida Democrats did not support changing the date to January despite their votes for the final bill.



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