Nelson, Hastings file lawsuit against DNC

10/04/07 Mitch E.Perry
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Calling it unacceptable that Democratic Party officials have banned presidential candidates from campaigning in Florida but allowed them to do fundraising, Sen. Bill Nelson today announced he is suing the Democratic National Committee.

The DNC’s decision to strip Florida of its delegates to next year’s convention because it moved up its presidential primary, prompted Nelson and South Florida Congressman Aylcee Hastings to file suit.

Although initially dismissed by some Florida party officials as a tempest in a teapot, the argument between Washington and Tallahassee threatens to become something potential bigger as the Democrats appear to be in good shape to win the White House next year. But that’s still 13 months away.

Sen. Nelson acknowledged that the issue has gotten out of hand.

Nelson says the DNC’s edict in penalizing the state violates the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. And he says, that doesn’t even include the violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Rick Hasen is a professor law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, and the host of electionlawblog.org. He says Nelson faces an uphill battle in winning this suit.

But Nelson is confident. He joins Tampa political consultant Vic DiMaio in filing a suit against the DNC – although DiMaio also included the Florida Democratic Party in his suit.

DiMaio and his attorney, Michael Steinberg, wrote to Nelson last week in anticipation of today’s announcement, suggesting that they combine their suits. DiMaio says he never heard back from the senator, and says his case should take precedence.

In its response today, the DNC invoked a Wisconsin decision where the Supreme Court has previously ruled that political parties - and not states - have the right to decide how their candidates for president are selected.

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