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Will your primary vote count in 2008?

Martin County Democrats

The long and short of it is...yes, your vote will count. You can take that to the bank. If you want to know why and how we arrived at this point, read on.

How we got to this point

Most of the voters in the Presidential election never really have a say in choosing Presidential candidates. The political system in our country has evolved over time in a way that small states and a small percentage of the electorate chooses our presidential candidates.

This spring, the Republican legislature, along with the Governor decided that we in Florida were not getting the proper recognition in either the Republican or Democratic Presidential primaries. They felt (as many do) that the current primary system is outdated and antiquated. The current primary system allows the least populated and least diverse states (Iowa, New Hampshire and now Nevada and South Carolina) to pick the national candidates.

The Republican Florida legislators decided it was time for a change. The Republican House leadership sponsored a bill to move the primary date to January 29th knowing full well that was contrary to Republican rules. (They could lose half their convention delegates)

Jeremy Ring, a Democrat, sponsored a similar bill in the Senate. The process of designating a new primary date was started. It appears at some point a suggestion by the Democratic House Legislative committee was made that the Florida Democratic Party be consulted to confirm there was no problem with the January 29th date. Supposedly that contact was made and "no conflict" was the word from FDP.

Later in the process, Howard Dean and the Democratic National Rules Committee learned of the proposed bill. Dr. Dean called Democratic Representative Dan Geller, asking him to convince the Democrats to please vote against the bill. In response to his request, the House Democrats proposed an amendment be made to the bill moving the date back one week to February 5th. That amendment was sponsored by Democrats and rebuked by the Republicans. The Republicans wanted the bill passed. There is no way the the Democrats could have stopped them at this point.

Finally, the Republicans added the "verified voting machines" amendment to the bill which forced the Democrats to join in and vote for the legislation or risk being branded as "against a paper trail". In either case, amendments or not, this bill would have passed the House and Senate in Tallahassee if EVERY Democrat had ALWAYS voted against the bill. That's just simple arithmetic. Democrats don't have the votes.

So, now what?

As a penalty for our State Democratic Legislative Delegation in Tallahassee not being able to convince the Republican majority to rescind the chosen date, the National Democratic Rules Committee, with the consent of Chairman Dean, has decided to castigate the Florida Democratic Party by taking away our delegates to the national convention in Denver, August 25th, 2008.

However, not so fast Mr. Chairman. Karen Thurman and FDP officials have returned somewhat wounded but un-relenting from their first skirmish in Washington with the DNC and Dr. Dean. They have vowed to continue on in their quest for full representation in the coming Democratic Convention. They will continue to fight all the way to the floor of the convention if necessary. In addition, legal action between the warring parties has been suggested by Senator Bill Nelson which may force resolution to the problem.

The fact is this is an antiquated system for both parties, Democrats and Republicans alike, and it needs to be changed. Presidential elections are decided in California, Florida, New York, Ohio, Michigan and the populous states, not in Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa, whose total votes couldn't overturn the decision by any ONE of the larger states. It's time to give the larger states their due by recognizing them in the primary. There are even better ideas whose points are illustrated in the attached links if you care to read on.
Will Dean's War on Florida Backfire?
Florida Dems Not Blinking in Primary Date Faceoff


Will there be a January 29th Florida Democratic Primary? Yes!
Will your vote count? Yes!
Will there be further inter-party bloodshed in our usual "circular firing squad"? Yes!
Will the FDP win the fight ... Yes!

Dave Dew, Chair
Martin County Democratic Executive Committee

Opinions Pieces of Party Leaders

August 31, 2007
Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman
issued the following statement on the so-called 'Four State Pledge Letter 2008':

"I don't see how anybody who believes he or she should be President of the United States of America could get tricked into signing a pact to ignore tens of millions of diverse Americans by a selfish, four-state alliance of party insiders."

September 1, 2007
Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Leonard Joseph:

"No matter which cards we're dealt, Florida Democrats are going to win the state's 27 electoral votes and elect a Democratic President in 2008. The country needs us."

Read the 'Four State Pledge Letter 2008'

Lets Move Forward

September 1, 2007
By: Jon M. Ausman, Florida Member Democratic National Committee

I would like to share the history of Florida’s delegate selection dilemma, then make a proposal to peacefully extricate ourselves from this awkward position.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) in August 2006 adopted a delegate selection calendar that said only four states could conduct caucuses or primaries before February 5, 2008. These four states are Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The DNC asked all the states in early 2006 if they wanted to hold their primaries or caucuses in January 2008. Only twelve states applied and Nevada and South Carolina were added to the traditional early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Florida did not bother to apply.

Then, in 2007, Florida Democratic Legislatures voted unanimously in five separate committee votes in five separate committees to move the primary into January 2008 even though staff analysis stated that we would likely have our delegates withheld. When these committee votes occurred the vote was solely on the date of the primary and had yet to be connected to the paper ballot (this came much later).

The floor votes, with and without the paper ballot attached, saw every Democratic Legislator, but one, voting yes to move the date to January 29th..

When the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) rejected the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) argument that Democrats valiantly fought Republican efforts to move the primary forward into January 2008 they were right to do so because the facts did not support the assertion that it happened over our protests (since in fact, it happened with our near unanimous support).

The DNC RBC offered us thirty days to submit a plan that respects the February 5th window. If this happens then Florida will have a full delegation at the Convention. The clock is ticking and no plan has been offered, yet alone drafted for consideration.

On Thursday, 30 August 2008, DNC Howard Dean hosted a conference phone call with the Florida DNC Members former FDP Chair Terrie Brady; State Representative Joyce Cusack; FDP Vice-Chair Diane Glasser; FDP Secretary Janee Murphy; FDP Chair Karen Thurman; Jon Ausman; former FDP Chair Mitch Ceasar; Tallahassee City Commissioner Allan Katz; and, FDP Affirmative Action Chair Chuck Mohlke. Absent were: former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez and FDP Treasurer Rudy Parker. Also on the line were two DNC staffers including DNC RBC General Counsel Joseph Sandler and DNC Delegate Selection Director Phil McNamara.

The conversation was cordial, conciliatory and constructive. Governor Dean thought we should move forward and consider constructive options to provide for a party-run delegation selection process. To that end, Governor Dean offered $880,000 to help support a process of our choosing. Governor Dean, in response to a question by Jon Ausman, also noted that the DNC has contributed $350,000 annually to fund staff working for the FDP.

Governor Dean expressed concerned about the need to tone down the rhetoric and to seek solutions which respect the DNC rules regarding delegate selection. He was particularly concerned that rhetoric had moved into actions which were specifically designed to hurt the Democratic Party.

FDP Chair Karen Thurman thought any caucus plan, if one is decided upon, should have an absentee ballot component. Every Florida DNC Member on the line had a chance to talk and all were interested in finding a win-win solution for both the DNC and the FDP.

During the last two days the following presidential candidates voluntarily agreed to a proposal by the designated first four states to honor the DNC’s line of February 5th and to not campaign in those states who broke party rules and moved their caucuses or primaries forward of the line:

1. Senator Joe Biden;
2. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton;
3. Senator Christopher Dodd;
4. former Senator John Edwards;
5. Senator Barrack Obama; and,
6. Governor Bill Richardson.

FDP Chair Karen Thurman, upon hearing of this news, issued the following statement:

"I don't see how anybody who believes he or she should be President of the United States of America could get tricked into signing a pact to ignore tens of millions of diverse Americans by a selfish, four-state alliance of party insiders."

These Presidential candidates have not been tricked into signing a pact. Instead, they respected the work of the DNC over the last two years in drawing up a primary/caucus calendar and supported the DNC RBC. Frankly, why campaign in states when you are not going to get any delegates from in the first place?

In addition, calling the Democratic Party leaders in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina “selfish” is not helpful and it certainly is not supportive of Thursday’s agreement to tap down the rhetoric and work towards a win-win solution.

Frankly, the Legislature (with overwhelming Democratic Legislative support) put us in this position. They also did it with the barest, if any consultation, with party leaders. I certainly wasn’t consulted. Were you?

I did send my thoughts to the Democratic Legislators via email to provide some input.

We now have a situation where we have a non-binding January 29th primary for which no presidential candidates are going to campaign.

If interested parties really want a great turnout in the primary then the primary needs to be moved to February 5th, a mere seven days later.

I would suggest that in the upcoming Legislative Session the Democratic House and Senate Leader use every parliamentary and procedural tool at their disposal to block action on any and all issues until the primary is moved back seven days to February 5th, thus averting the dire penalties their previous leadership imposed on Florida.

If the goal was to have our issues heard by jumping the queue then this attempt has misfired and instead we are going to be ignored.

If the Legislature refuses to fix their own mess then I would propose that the FDP adopted a caucus method of selecting Democrats. If we can devise one, it should contain a provision for a secure and safe absentee voting (as was proposed by State Chair Karen Thurman).

Maybe a History Lesson is in Order

September 1, 2007
By Celest Bush, Chair, St. Lucie DEC

All this talk about wholesome, homey retail politics that have apparently earned a couple of states such "Sacrosanct Primary position" begged a look at their results.

Of the last nine Presidential elections in which the Democratic candidate was chosen by the current primary system (excluding 1996 when President Clinton faced no real opposition in the primary), our candidate has only twice been elected President.

Those candidates, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992, both lost the Iowa Caucuses. Clinton lost the New Hampshire primary as well.

Also, the Iowa Caucus has picked a loser every time since it came to prominence in 1972. Since 1952, the New Hampshire Primary has only picked one Democratic President when the nomination was contested.

Iowa Caucus winners:

1972: Muskie (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1976: Uncommitted (more than a third chose no one)
1980: Jimmy Carter (lost general)
1984: Mondale (lost general)
1988: Gephardt (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1992: Harkin (lost primary, Clinton won general)
1996: Clinton (no serious opposition, won general)
2000: Gore (lost general)
2004: Kerry (lost general)

New Hampshire Primary winners:

1952: Kefauver (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1956: Kefauver (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1960: Kennedy (no serious opposition, won general)
1964: Johnson (no serious opposition, won general)
1968: Johnson (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1972: Muskie (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1976: Carter (won general)
1980: Carter (lost general)
1984: Hart (lost primary, eventual nominee lost general)
1988: Dukakis (lost general)
1992: Tsongas (lost primary, Clinton won general)
1996: Clinton (no serious opposition, won general)
2000: Gore (lost general)
2004: Kerry (lost general)