Florida Governor Charlie Crist today signed an elections reform bill that moves Florida's Presidential Preference Primary up to January 29th in 2008. This puts the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee on a collision course. DNC primary rules call for draconian penalties for any state that moves its primary up before February 5th. Potentially, Florida could lose all of its delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
I have blogged about this before. The first time was last November on DailyKos. More recently, I blogged about the Florida Primary Conspiracy Theory, a dubious concept at best. I have also blogged about How to Have Our Primary Cake and Eat It Too. This laid out how the FDP could avoid delegate penalties from the DNC. The technique would be to declare the January 29th primary non-binding. This would then require the FDP to hold a caucus at a later date to actually select and apportion the convention delegates. It would also have the unfortunate effect of the the Florida Democratic Party telling its members that their votes on January 29th wouldn't count.
I have come to the conclusion that this is not a cake I want to eat. Our Republican dominated state legislature did this to us. Make no mistake here, though. Many Dem legislators were just as happy to move up in the primary schedule. I know I was, and continue to be. We are the largest swing state in the country. We have more electoral votes at stake than the states going before us combined. We are much more diverse than any state going before us in this process. Floridians deserve to have their voices heard as part of the presidential nominating process.
Our own state party should not be put in the position of telling us our primary votes are not going to count. Not in Florida of all places. We have a hard enough time getting our votes to count here as it is. (Although the bill that Gov. Crist signed today also does away with touch screen voting machines (almost entirely) and provides us with a voter verifiable paper trail.) No , the state party should not put us in that position.
That puts the ball squarely in your court, Dr. Dean. As Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, your position on this dilemma counts for a great deal. Do you really want to tell Florida Democrats, of all people, that their votes won't count? After all, this was done to us by the Republican controlled Florida Legislature. The Dems couldn't have stopped this if they had wanted to. Speaking of Florida Democrats, Dr. Dean, you do recall how important their support was in your ascendancy to the Chairmanship, don't you? The early support from the Florida delegation to the DNC really got the ball rolling for you.
But, let's just get back to the basic issue here. There will be a presidential primary in Florida on January 29th. It is now the law of this state. The Democratic candidates are going to campaign here. This state supplies too much money, and holds too many electoral votes for the candidates to ignore us. The only remaining question is this:
Doctor Dean, are you going to let our votes count?