Democratic activist loses again in court

05/28/08 Mitch E. Perry
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A Federal Judge today threw out another lawsuit aimed at forcing the Democratic National Committee to seat Florida’s presidential delegates.

The challenge, by Tampa Democratic party political activist Vic DiMaio, was based on the claim that the Democratic National Committee was practicing reverse discrimination by allowing the states of South Carolina and Nevada to hold early primaries based on their large percentage of Black and Latino voters.

Judge Richard Lazarra wasn’t buying that argument. ”There’s no connection between money given to DNC and alleged discriminatory practices," Lazarra said.

Afterward DiMaio said he was disappointed.

But attorney Joseph Sandler, who was representing the DNC in court, said the judge had ruled that the Democratic Party was within its rights to choose the states that it wanted to move up earlier, and that South Carolina and Nevada were chosen early not just because of racial diversity.

DiMaio’s attorney, Michael Steinberg, said the DNC’s decision to choose states early in the primary process because at least in part because of racial composition, could set a precedent that would allow the party to choose states that are majority white four years from now, and it would be considered legally acceptable.

DiMaio and Steinberg say they are not pursuing their lawsuit on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Clinton and surrogates have insisted that the votes in Florida must count, or they threaten not to vote for a Democrat in November. And recently, DiMaio appeared on a local television talk show where he advocated that Clinton would be a better nominee for the Democrats this fall over Barack Obama. But Steinberg, the current chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, said he’s been interested in restoring Florida’s delegates since the DNC originally penalized Florida last August.

All eyes now move to Washington this weekend at the DNC’s Rules and By-Laws Committee. A new group organized to demand that Florida’s delegates count is called FDR, Floridians Demand Representation, most of whom all are Hillary Clinton supporters. But Blaine Whitford says it’s not about Clinton or Obama, though she is critical of the Illinois senator.

Democratic Party strategist and Clinton supporter Anna Cruz said she wasn’t surprised by Judge Lazzara’s rule. And unlike some Clinton supporters, she said that though she will work hard for Clinton to the very end, she is a Democrat who will work equally as hard for whomever the candidate is this November.

DiMaio says he will appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

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