FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP SUPPORTS JANUARY 29 PRIMARY; WHAT HAPPENS NOW
During it's Jefferson - Jackson Weekend festivities held in South Florida, state Democratic activists embraced the idea of it's presidential preference primary being held in January 29 as approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. However, negotiations will continue to prevent the Florida Democratic Party from losing half it's delegate seats from next summer's national convention, as well as it's "super delegate" seats which are reserved for state party leaders and Democratic elected officials.
Florida Republicans have figuratively "flipped the bird" to the national GOP over the issue, making it clear they are unconcerned about the possibility of losing seats when compared to having a larger say in who their nominee for the White House will be. However, Democrats are more in crisis mode, as the Democratic National Committee has also threatened to take away the delegate votes of any candidate who actively campaigns or raises money here once the state party leadership decides to make the primary binding.
The other option is for the FDP to declare the January 29 primary a nonbinding vote, basically making it worthless in terms of delegate selection and only worthwhile for candidates who do well to crow about how successful their campaign was in the Sunshine State. Instead, the FDP would have to pay --- the general idea is around $5 million --- for caucuses statewide which would actually be the means of selecting delegates. The state party's Central Committee agreed unanimously over the weekend that the primary would be the way to go, fully aware of the possible penalties.
Probable turnout was the key reason for the decision.
In addition to the presidential preference primary, there will very likely be a question regarding property tax reform for voters to decide, as well as municipal elections in a number of communities. The FDP guesses that at best, ten percent of the registered Democrats who would vote in a primary would show up to participate in a caucus.
UPDATE: The Democratic National Committee responded:
"The DNC will enforce the rules as passed by its 447 members in August 2006. Until the Florida State Democratic Party formally submits its plan and we've had the opportunity to review that submission, we will not speculate further."
The procedure now is that the state party must submit their delegate selection plan to the DNC late this week, followed by a 30 day period for public comment. The DNC Rules Committee will take up the issue at it's meeting on August 25, at which time it will almost certainly find the Florida organization in violation and rule that any candidate campaigning or raising funds here will forfeit any delegates.
When it comes to primaries and caucuses, I still like my plan a lot better.