An odd way to treat your political allies Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Howard Dean and the DNC have told Florida Democrats to change their primary date or suffer the consequences. In fairness, the Republican National Committee has done the same thing. The difference is degree. The Republicans told Florida Republicans that if they insist on having their primary on the 29th of January, they’ll reduce the number of delegates Florida can send to the Republican Convention.
Seem harsh? I mean, Florida is a critical state, no? And, in the nominating process, every state is important.
So while the Reps may seem harsh in their treatment of Florida Republicans, they don’t hold a candle to Dean and the DNC. You see, the DNC plans on giving Florida Democrats the equivalent of the political ‘death penalty’ if they don’t comply. Yes, that’s right, if Florida Democrats don’t change the primary date within 30 days to one preferred by the DNC (Feb 5th or after), they will not be allowed to have any delegates to the Democratic Convention in 2008. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Now I can understand the concern of the political parties about creeping primary dates and the desire to keep their primary system viable (if, in fact it ever has been, but let’s go along with the conventional wisdom here, shall we?). But issuing ultimatums seems a poor way to go. The primary date is the law in Florida, having been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. So it’s not as easy as just saying “oops” and changing it to a later date. January 29th is now the law.
One other little thing to keep in mind is that according to reports this DNC rule was voted on by all of the states including Florida. If true, you have to wonder why Florida voted for something they knew they’d violate?
The bottom line is there’s a showdown looming. The Florida Democratic Party asked the DNC to reconsider and this Saturday the DNC met and decided to enforce the rule:
A Democratic National Committee panel voted Saturday to strip Florida of its convention delegates unless it moves back its primary from Jan. 29, but there are no signs the state will comply. If nothing gives, Democratic presidential candidates will face an unusual dilemma: commit to spending valuable time and money to compete in a beauty-pageant election that won't build their delegate count, or essentially ignore the nation's fourth-most-populous state — the one that decided the 2000 election.
The DNC has warned Democratic presidential candidates not to campaign in the state as well. As you might imagine, this has set up a bit of a confrontation between Howard Dean and the DNC and Sen. Bill Nelson and the Florida Congressional Delegation. The latter sent a letter to Dean challenging his authority to do this:
It has been our understanding the Democratic National Committee intended to satisfactorily resolve any potential rules problems arising from the decision by several states to move up their 2008 primary dates. Florida - as directed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Crist - advanced its primary to Jan 29. Our goal now is to protect the right of every citizen to vote and to have that vote count.
Yet it was reported just today the DNC still appears poised to assault this basic right. According to ABC News and other news publications, the DNC may sanction Florida if the state's Democratic Party doesn't make the new primary a nonbinding straw poll - or in effect, a "meaningless . . . beauty contest."
If true - and, if the DNC strips Florida of all or some of its delegates to the national convention - we would ask the appropriate legal officials to determine whether this could violate any state or federal laws governing and protecting individual voting rights.
Furthermore, we would recommend to the chairman and leadership of the Florida Democratic Party that they send the party's entire delegation to the national convention in Denver next year anyway.
You can imagine the spectacle the barring of the delegation would make on national TV. Nelson offers a compromise saying the entire problem could be resolved if the other primaries were moved up a week to the January 29th date. Reaction to all of this has come down mostly on the side of Florida. Kos, for instance, says:
Any such decision will never stick. Never. Does anyone really think that Democrats will disenfranchise the delegates of a large swing state, whether it's Florida or Michigan?
The DNC is powerless. All it has is bluster. And as soon as we have a nominee, the first thing that person will do is rescind any such decision.
And Bill Rufty, a Florida columnist asks is “Howard Dean out of his mind” and points to a little political reality:
Banning delegates or not, the current leaders of the national Democrats may already have sealed their fate. The Iowa straw poll didn't chose delegates, but media coverage was everywhere and one Republican presidential candidate even dropped out after the results. So, what do you think will happen when the largest state to date, Florida, reveals the results of its primaries? Newspapers, television and bloggers will cover it like crazy.
Presidential candidates in both parties know the publicity will be irreplaceable and that it will set the stage for the myriad of states holding primaries one week later.
They aren't going to stay away.
A few months back Dean announced, "Anybody who campaigns in Florida is ineligible for delegates."
In reality, maybe that might be rephrased a little: Anyone standing with Howard Dean after the Democratic convention may be out of a job like him.
So the battle lines in an a seemingly unnecessary war are drawn with Howard Dean and the DNC asserting that the party’s rules are all important and he’s willing to go down with the ship in a national election to make that point. On the other side, the state of Florida, a critical and pivotal state in any national election without which an overall win is in serious doubt.
Who do you think will win this internal fight? And if Dean loses, do you think he’ll survive as the head of the DNC (most people think he’s gone if Hillary wins anyway)?
To me it seems a stupid hill to die on for the Dean and the DNC. January 29th or a week later on Feb. 5th isn't going to make a dimes worth of difference. It appears Dean is simply trying to exert authority and control and frankly I think it will do more to hurt party unity at a critical time than have any real benefit. And if Dean has his way and refuses to seat the Florida delegation at the Democratic Convention in Denver next year, they may as well concede Florida to the Republicans.
As I read a couple of days ago, the problem is that the STATE’S and the Parties had agreed upon a schedule for the ’08 nomination process. New Hampshire first, by New Hampshire law, and then the states and parties had negotiated the timing of the various primaries. Florida is violating that agreement, made with the DNC and RNC, and within the DNC compact was the "stick" that to violate the agreement was to suffer loss of delegates, apparently to include the loss of ALL delegates!
So this isn’t Howard Dean being a crazy pr*ck, so much as it is the FL Legislature trying to jack up their importance and violate an agreement that had been made between several state parties concerning this electoral cycle. Again, this is what I had read, I could be wrong.
Bottom-line: Florida entered into a "contract" and violated the terms of the contract and now must pay the penalty clause of the contract to which they agreed.
The problem is Florida entered into this arrangement knowing full well this was going to be a problem. There has been talk in the state about moving up the primary since 2004, and it has wide popular support in the state across party lines. We’re the fourth most populous state; a swing state which has played a pivotal role in the past two presidential elections...yet by the time the primary process reaches our state, it’s already a foregone conclusion, something that really angers most of the voters here.
I do have a question on this: is it the state legislature and governor that signs the ’contract’ with the parties or is it the State Party Officials that make the deal? The GOP is currently in control in Florida, and if the Dems made this deal within their own members...there’s not much they could do to stop it.
As far as what Dean is doing, I wonder if he’s just not falling on his sword before he has his head perverbially cut off. This simply doesn’t make any sense. If the initiative in California passes and the electoral votes are split amongst the two parties, then with this action all but ceding the state to Republicans this all but guarantees a Republican win in 2008 regardless of who gets the nod.
I think we’re going to see a coup in the Democratic Party soon, or Howard Dean is going to have to swallow his pride and lower his penalty to equal that of the GOP’s, cos this is bad no matter how you dice it (for them...as far as I’m concerned, they can shoot each other all they want)
Well, I’d say that BOTH the DNC and the RNC have a dog in this fight, it’s a process that is both a state and national issue. I understand why BOTH National Committees may take this line, there is either a process or there isn’t. For the RNC they ahve the good fortune that the DNC has Dean, so they will let him do the heavy lifting. But I see both national parties being fairly and rightly involved in this and trying to punish Florida. The states entered into omplex negotiations to produce this process and if their word(s) is/are no good then the whole process breaks down.
Bottom-Line: I’m pullin’ for Dean on this one and I don’t see FL as a "victim" and I’m not sure that other state parties are going to see them as victims either.
The blood sport works both ways, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Vermont ALL want a say in the process and if FL sets out to "Screw" them they may be perfectly willing to put the screws to FL.
"You can imagine the spectacle the barring of the delegation would make on national TV."
I sure can, and so can all those television executives. Ratings would soar. Perhaps this is merely a ploy to get more television coverage.
Actually, I think the Dem.’s have the correct response. You seem to forget the difficulty Florida has in counting votes. How on earth are they going to accurately count to half the delegates? Perhaps the other states would be able to calculate half and then count them, but not Florida. Not in a reasonable length of time, anyway. All or nothing is the only feasible approach for Florida.
How about just having a national primary day, and be done with it...
Then every primary voter has to decide for themselves who they want to see running. And then "every vote counts."
’Course, the cost of running in the primaries would increase, but hey, that’s what the political parties are for right...
I’d rather see NH rescind their law, and the parties have 5 primary dates with 10 states in each (11 in the first.) Each election, the states would be randomly selected, 2 from each quintile ranked on voter registration.
Joel, as far as I can tell, Dean is just threatening to bar FL delegates to the party nominating convention. The only effect is preventing FL Democrats from having their say in who the Dem nominee is - it does not affect FL’s Electoral College delegates.
Additionally, many states can make the claim that their input is irrelevant due to primary scheduling. Either the national parties reign in the state parties, or we see primaries being scheduled years in front of the general election as self-important state parties’ leap-frog so that their state is at the front of the pack. (A likely side-effect would be in so disgusting the general population that they finally recognize just how insignificance primaries actually are.) Anymore the biggest benefit from primaries are state revenues coming from campaign dollars. Even though FL is in the hands of the GOP, don’t fool yourself thinking that Jeb is going to refuse that windfall even if it is the state Dems pushing the issue.
[quote]The only effect is preventing FL Democrats from having their say in who the Dem nominee is - it does not affect FL’s Electoral College delegates. [/quote] I’m not saying it does. I’m looking at the grand picture here.
Democrats are already p/o’d at their party because of their failure in doing...well...anything. Now they’re stiffling the voices of their own base in a major swing state. What kind of message does that send to the grassroot supporters if the head of the Party is telling the candidates not to show up? What this is setting up is a kind of angry apathy which may actually see hard core party supporters stay home in protest.
Also, you guys are failing to see the underlying problem here: you have two private entities demanding that a State Government do as they say or they are going to punish the members of their own party who reside in said state. Now, the parties can do whatever they want, seeing as they are private entities. But no corporation (which is effectively what a political party is) can dictate to a state what actions it will take or suffer penalties. In the end, who is the Democratic Party really hurting? The State of Florida? Hardly, the REAL election comes in November of 2008. The Independents? no, they don’t vote in the Democratic Primaries. They’re hurting their own base, their grassroots support, in a key swing state.
There are good ways of doing things and then there are suicidal ways of doing things. Howard Dean is shooting himself in the head.
Lots of thoughts all jostling to get out of my head... how did we to the point where Political Parties were under threat of civil rights violations for the way they handle their own nominations? Are these private clubs or not?
I personally think that the primary system was a meddling mess that should have never gotten off the ground, and would be happier if all the states turned it back over to the state parties, and have those state parties nominate candidates like they are supposed to.
Also, let’s not overlook the Machiavellian parts of this. Dean’s job is to stay head of the DNC, not to win elections. If he is out when Hillary comes in, then that means his goals are: 1) keep Hillary from being nominated and 2) if she is nominated, keep her from winning the election. As a backup, making sure the election is lost might be the safest bet for him.