Yesterday, I wrote about how Florida and Michigan Democrats were punished by the DNC for moving up their respective primaries by having their ability to seat delegates at the convention taken away from them http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_steven_l_080207_democrats_the_dnc_an.htm . In short, this means Florida and Michigan Democrats have no say into who is the Democratic nominee for President.
I blamed the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and Howard Dean exclusively and it appears that this isn’t the complete story. Someone wrote to me to explain that Florida’s State Democratic Party, in particular, voted 115-1 to authorize the Florida state legislature (mostly Republicans) to move up their primary date in defiance of repeated warnings by the DNC.
Regardless of who is at fault, grassroots Democrats in Florida and Michigan are not at fault and they deserve to have a voice in who represents them in the general election despite what the state party operatives did or did not do. My initial suggestion was to do the same as what the RNC did when they punished the Florida Republicans, which is to seat half of the delegates voted for in the Florida primary.
The problem with this solution is that Florida Republicans knew that they were voting for real delegates and candidates for the Republican nomination were permitted to campaign in Florida. Florida Republicans got the chance to see and get to know those for whom they had a chance to vote. Not so with the Democrats. The DNC put into effect a ban on campaigning in Florida for those vying for the Democratic nomination. In the absence of any campaigning, the person with the greatest initial name recognition, Hillary Clinton, easily got more votes than anyone else in Florida. In Michigan, she was the only one who put her name on the ballot since it was told to everyone that the match up there would be only a ‘beauty contest’.
Moving to the present, now that there is a real horse race for the Democratic nomination, Hillary and her campaign want to have the delegates from Michigan and Florida retroactively recognized and seated at the convention. They are trying to make this into something that they are supposedly doing to benefit the voters of both states. The self serving nature of this effort by campaign Clinton is disturbing and detestable.
The article that I wrote yesterday where I suggested that half the delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated at the convention drew a lot of responses both privately to me and on the various sites it was posted. Of all of the solutions proposed, there is only one that seems to make everyone happy and is the most fair and it is not the one I proposed yesterday. That solution is to have new Democratic Party caucuses in both states during the April-June timeframe.
Coincidentally as the responses were coming in and I was coming to this realization, I found out that Michigan Democrats do indeed seem on their way to doing this. This effort should be supported by everyone. It is Florida where there is a problem. Several prominent Florida Democrats, including one of my favorites, Senator Bill Nelson, whose campaign I worked on in 2000 when he first got elected, object to the idea of a new Florida Caucus. The objection is that the Florida state Democratic Party would have to pay for it and they do not have the money. I hope that is the reason. I hope the fact that Senator Nelson and many Florida state Democratic operatives are supporters of Hillary’s campaign has nothing to do with any possible decision and objections.The DNC and Florida’s State Democratic Party need to remember that there will be a general election in November. Anything they can do to re-energize the Democratic base in the state of Florida isn’t only a good idea; it may be the only thing that will keep Florida in play for the Democrats. If Florida isn’t in play, McCain will be free to spend more campaign money on other swing states like New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, etc. If it means the DNC and Florida State Democratic Party need to come to an agreement about sharing costs for this caucus, then they need to do that. We all need to get together on the one solution that will be fair and everyone can feel good about. We need a new Democratic caucus in Florida.