Saturday, May 5, 2007

Florida Primary: How to Have Our Primary Cake and Eat It Too

The Florida Legislature has thankfully ended their regular session. I say thankfully, because it is harder for them to screw things up when they are not in session. But they are coming back in June for a special session since they could not get their act together on property tax "reform".

That's another whole diary in and of itself. Today, there is good news and bad news and it is the same news. The good news is the Legislature has voted to move Florida's Presidential Preference Primary to January 29th. The bad news is the Legislature has voted to move Florida's Presidential Preference Primary to January 29th.

Follow me to find out why this is both good and bad news and how to have our cake and it eat too.

The Florida Legislature limped to a close of its annual regular session with a whimper Friday afternoon. The list of the dids and did nots will provide fodder for many diaries in the days and weeks to come. Today, though, we are going to take up the topic of the Florida Presidential Preference Primary.

The Republican dominated Florida Legislature passed a wide ranging election reform bill this week. The most publicised news is that Florida is moving to voter verified paper ballots. Congrats to Pam Haengel, President, Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay (VIA Tampa Bay) and all the other folks who worked so hard to make this happen.

The other big news is that the Legislature also voted to move Florida's Presidential Preference Primary up to January 29th. This is before the primary "window" allowed by both the Republican and Democratic National committees. From the New York Times:
The national parties warned Florida that any state slating its contest earlier than Feb. 5 without express permission will lose half its delegates to the party’s national conventions in the late summer of 2008. In addition, Democratic Party rules stipulate that any candidate who campaigns in a state that has violated Democratic scheduling rules will forfeit delegates the state retains — in effect, shutting out the state altogether.

That sounds pretty draconian, particularly on the part of the Dems. Maybe Karen Thurman should call Howard Dean and remind him that the Florida Legislature is dominated by the other guys. A little help with the 50 state plan might be more in order than threatening us with punishment for the sins of others.

But there is another option that is entirely within the control of the Florida Democratic Party. Also noted in the New York Times:
DNC spokeswoman Stacie Paxton said in a statement that the committee is hoping to work with the state to reach a solution. “This is not the first time that a state legislature has set its primary on a date outside DNC party rules,” Paxton said. “As with similar situations in the past, the DNC is working closely with the state party to look at the alternatives for proceeding in accordance with the rules on or after February 5th.”

Alternatives might include holding a party-run event such as a caucus, making the primary a non-binding event.

This may be the saving grace for for Florida Democrats. The FDP could choose to make the January primary non-binding. They would then need to create a mechanism for the awarding of convention delegates to the candidates. A caucus is one method that the FDP would totally control. The only real problem the FDP is going to have: Figuring out how to make it snow so the caucus goers will have to wade through the obligatory snow to get to the caucus locations.


gatordem said...

Can you say Caucus?

Sunny said...

What is the reasoning behind moving up the primary date if such a move effects both parties?

Gin said...

Whatever mechanism works to ensure that our delegate votes will be valid is fine with me. How do we make this happen?

gatordem said...

To make this happen, get in touch with your local pary officers, the chair, vice chair and state committee people. Urge them to contact the Florida Democratic Party. The State committee can put this item on the agenda and pass a delegate selection plan that selects delegates vai a caucus rather than the Peresidential Preference Primary.

College Progressive said...

Well, a caucus would put a lot more control in the hands of dedicated, active internet activists like us, huh?

gatordem said...

Or anybody else who cared enough to show up. Four years ago, we had quite the turnout for the FL-10 Caucus, and that was just to select the people who would be delegates. Wait till we get to pick what candidates get how many delegates!

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