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Florida Convention Delegation

Martin County Democrats

Ed Matson
Martin County State Committeeman

March 14, 2008
I just received Jon Ausman's e-mail concerning our Florida delegation to the national convention. The DNC said it would consider "properly filed challenges". I believe these are the challenges:

1. To seat ALL of Florida's "Superdelegates".
2. To seat 50% of pledged elected delegates. Those figures come out to be 92 pledged delegates and 15 pledged alternates. How those will be determined is another can of worms, but one worm at a time...

While certainly not what we would wish in a perfect world, it may be the best hand we could hope to be dealt.

I have been perusing some of the blogs and Florida is taking a beating. Mostly due to the uninformed expressing their ignorance, but it seems a lot of people would be happy if we Floridians would secede and join another third world county. Wait a minute, it seems we already have...Sorry, I digress.

Here is some personal observations and some background so that we can perhaps understand the who, what and why, and maybe answer some of the criticism that we Floridians are getting.

The reason the Florida legislature wanted to move up our primary is that they rightfully felt that four, small, demographically unrepresentative states are unfairly holding the power to select the presidential party candidates. No one, other than the citizens of those four states, would argue that this is fair. This "power" may be just a perception, but perceptions have powerful consequences.

There have been several plans suggested to make the nominating process "more fair". All of these have been defeated when brought up to the National Parties. Lots of reasons for this, but it comes down to the early states refusing to relinquish their power. (It would be against New Hampshire's Constitution. Give me break, 49 states are forced to bow to them, deal with it.)

The State Legislature felt Florida voters were being disenfranchised by this policy and wanted to do something to allow Florida's voters to have a voice.

Historical Facts:

1. The decision to move the primary up was a Florida State law passed in Florida by a government controlled by a Republican Governor, an overwhelmingly Republican House (77R/42D) and Republican Senate (26R/14D).

2. The Florida Democrats in the legislature (outnumbered to a point of being powerless) had, as one of their agendas, to require a "Paper Ballot" and do away with the electronic voting machines. (Does anybody think that the 2000 and 2004 elections on the electronic machines were not suspicious?)

3. The Republicans offered the carrot of paper ballots as one of the amendments to the deal of an early primary to win the Democrats support.

4. The Democrats in the legislature mostly went along and felt they had won an important victory because:
a. All Floridians will now be voting on traceable, recountable optically scanned paper ballots.
b. They did not have the votes to defeat the Republicans anyway.

We now move to late 2007 when the DNC rules committee decides that in order to keep any other states (Michigan) from having earlier primaries, and upsetting their pre-arranged cart, they would punish the Florida Democratic Party by removing ALL our national delegates if we held our (Democrat) primary on Jan. 29, the day the Republican State Legislature decided to hold the State primary.

In case you are unaware, the Florida Democratic Party was deep in debt after the 2004 election including a $800K bill to the IRS for non-payment of employment taxes. Poor management, incompetence, donors unwilling to invest in a party that was out-of-power in Washington and Tallahassee, whatever, we were in trouble four years ago. Say what you will of Karen Thurman, she has been able to get the FDP into the black by $2.5M. Not a great deal of money, by the way, for a political party in one of the largest states in the union.

We in the State Party then were faced with a decision.

We were offered some choices by the DNC including an offer to "partially pay" for a primary or caucus at a later date. We (and I agreed with my vote) decided to decline this offer for a couple of reasons:

1. We did not want to spend Party money (that we needed to get Democrats elected in Florida) on a separate primary when the State of Florida was already paying for a primary on Jan. 29.
2. We did not believe that the DNC would actually carry through with their threat. Would they really be stupid enough to disenfranchise the voters of a swing state like Florida and possibly throw the election away?
3. The primaries in the past have all been settled long before the national convention met and at convention time, the winning candidate nominee would certainly insist on seating our delegates as an act of solidarity.
4. This act of defiance might be the thing that would bring about changes in the process of selecting a presidential nominee in 2012 and beyond, making things more fair. That was after all, the point of the legislature's original decision to have an early primary.

In hindsight, we may have made the wrong decision, however, it seemed reasonable, and the right thing at the time.

How could we have been so stupid to not know how stupid the DNC would be to cut off it's own nose to spite it's face?

On top of that, all but one of the candidates signed a letter put out by the four early states that they would NOT campaign in Florida or any other state that voted early. Do you know how much money is raised and spent in these campaigns? It's obscene and one of the things that's wrong with our elections, but it was also money we were counting on raising in order to build a war chest to defeat the Republicans.

How could we have foreseen a race this close, this late? If the Republicans had not moved up our primary we would have voted this month and probably could have decided the nominee. The irony!

That brings us to today.

$12M to do a VBM primary. The FDP has maybe $3M in the bank. To whom would we be indebted, obligated and owe favors to pay for this VBM?

There is more than enough blame to spread around, but the important thing is to solve this predicament and get on with uniting this party, electing Democrats, get the Republicans out of power and get our country back. We can not allow defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory.