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On Tuesday night, Florida's nine congressmen voted to oppose a mail-in vote proposition put forth by Florida Democratic State Chairman, Karen Thurman. Thurman has urged the national and state party, as well as both Senators Clinton and Obama to consider a combined vote-by-mail/in-person plan to serve as a re-do of Florida's premature January 29th presidential primary. This is just the latest news in the ongoing struggle the DNC faces in figuring out how to get the Florida and Michigan delegates seated in August.
First, an introduction:
As this is my first contribution to this site, my friends at 2008 Democratic Convention Watch encouraged me to say hello. My name is Anthony Timperman, and amongst certain other duties, I am the publisher of Waxpolitic.blogspot.com . I will be contributing regularly here at DCW up to and after the Convention. I hope you will stop by and join in our forum at Wax Politic from time to time as well. There... hello. Back to Florida.
Thurman's plan calls for all of Florida's 4.1 million Democrats to be mailed a ballot. They could send it back or cast a ballot in one of 50 regional voting centers. The election would end June 3rd, a week before a Democratic National Committee deadline to name delegates. Price to Florida voters? $10 to 12 million to be exact. Asked how she felt about the chances of her proposal being actualized State Party Chair Thurman replied,
I have a feeling that this is probably closer to not, than yes.So what needs to get done at the national level for Florida and Michigan to seat their delegates?
In Michigan the DNC and state party leaders who include Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Clinton supporter, are working to get on the same page. The stumbling block is how to pass legislation that would agree on spending privately raised funds for a re-do. If this happens, it looks likely that an early June vote is possible.
In Florida, it may take a more novel approach. One idea would seat Florida's existing delegates at the convention with half a vote each. Florida's superdelegates would then be given a vote in Denver. (Senator Bill Nelson is floating this idea also). A curious proposition, but one that seems to make more sense logistically for those legislators in Florida who contend that a mail-in re-do is far more involved than some would like to think. They're using Oregon, whose mail-in ballot process took years to iron out, as evidence. Talk from DNC headquarters makes obvious the fact that no one wants this dragging out until the National Convention in August.
The best option is whatever we can get the candidates to agree with, which puts a vote back in the hands of the people of Florida and Michigan. And that's going to be not so easy to do. - DNC Chairman Howard DeanThe Clinton and Obama camps have different stances but each continues to publicly assuage fears that they would interfere with the rules the DNC laid out. Senator Clinton, having won both Florida and Michigan (although she was the only major candidate on the Michigan ballot), is hopeful that these two states' delegations will swing a hotly contentious race in her favor. Obama strategists have publicly called into question the timing of Senator Clinton's heightened focus on the issue.
We'll keep on top of this in the coming days to find out how party leaders in Florida and Michigan will sort through all of the political jockeying and logistical hurdles.
Update (from Matt): The DNC is playing hardball with Florida:
Florida Democrats got a stern warning Friday from the co-chairman of a group that will determine whether the state gets a say in the presidential race: Hold a re-vote, or risk not getting seated at the party convention to pick a nominee.There's been some talk that the Credentials Committee would be pro-Clinton because of the Clinton ties of the three heads. I think the above makes it clear that the person pulling the strings of the Credentials Committee will be Howard Dean.
"It's the responsibility of the state Democratic Party to come up with a [re-vote] proposal that complies with the rules and has the support and the planning that's needed within the state," James Roosevelt, who runs the Democratic National Committee's credentials committee, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Florida's Democratic leaders had floated the idea of a June 3 redo election to comply with national party rules, which the state violated with its Jan. 29 primary. But the re-vote plan was opposed by Florida's congressional delegation and faces many logistic obstacles.
The DNC's credentials committee, which has two other co-chairmen and about 200 members, most of whom are still to be named by the presidential candidates, has the power to decide whether Florida and Michigan get a say at the nominating convention. The two states were punished for moving up their primary dates in violation of national party rules.
A re-vote "seems to be moving forward in Michigan; it seems to be a little bit stalled in Florida," said Roosevelt, a former official in Bill Clinton's administration appointed to his party post by DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "If they can do it in Michigan, I don't see why they couldn't do it in Florida."
Roosevelt's comments drew a swift rebuke from Florida Senate Democratic leader Steve Geller, who said the national party is flirting with disaster by threatening to snub Florida.
"What the DNC fails to understand is that not only are they giving away the presidency, we're apparently heading toward a Democratic National Convention that is a repeat of Chicago in 1968," said Geller, D-Cooper City, referring to the most chaotic Democratic convention in modern history.