Florida Democrats To Go With Jan. 29th For 2008 Presidential Primary
TALLAHASSEE - Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Orlando) today announced that the Florida Democratic leadership voted unanimously to accept January 29 as the date for the binding 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary in Florida.
This week the Florida Democratic Party will submit a working version of its selection plan for its 241 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. After a 30-day public comment period, a final version will be approved by the State Executive Committee and resubmitted to the DNC later this summer.
Nelson and Thurman held a conference call with reporters today, and the audio is available at www.fladems.com/primaryconferencecall.
"Florida Democrats have spoken, and we have listened," Thurman said. "When it came down to it, Florida's Democratic leadership decided that, among other factors, the potential for disenfranchisement with any other option besides the January 29th state-run primary was just too great. Florida Democrats cannot and will not disenfranchise voters."
"The principle is that Florida has been in a situation in the past where votes have been taken away from the people. We saw that in the 2000 election. We saw that again in the 2006 election in Sarasota, and so, in the protection of the people's right to vote, the Democratic Party does not want to be in a position where the perception is that it's taking away the people's right to vote and express themselves freely in a free and fair election," Nelson said."
"An additional factor in the leadership's decision was the concern that any date but January 29th would take our eyes off the prize and adversely affect the progress we've made toward winning the state for the Democratic nominee in 2008," Thurman added.
"The ultimate goal is to be able to win Florida in the November 2008 presidential election," Nelson said.
"With Republican presidential candidates heavily invested in the state already, it is time for the Democratic presidential candidates to truly take Florida seriously and prepare for both the primary and the general election," Thurman said.
The Florida Democratic Party reviewed many different options for conducting the state's presidential primary process in response to the Republican-held state government's decision to move the state-run 2008 Presidential Primary to January 29. This date did not comply with Democratic National Committee rules, which threaten serious penalties to our delegation for the National Convention.
The Party also conducted serious discussions with Democratic leaders around the state about the potential alternatives to the Jan. 29 primary. In the end, the consensus among Florida Democrats became clear.
On Sunday, June 10, the Party's Central Committee - the management committee of the State Executive Committee - voted unanimously to submit a working Delegate Selection Plan that makes the state-run, January 29, 2008 primary binding. In an emotional meeting, Committee members cited many reasons leading up to the unanimous vote, most importantly the likelihood for widespread disenfranchisement that would occur with any other process.
The state law that moved Florida's primary date was passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature with the support of a Republican governor. Though the Florida Democratic Party tried several attempts to stop it, we could not expect our Democratic legislators to vote against the final bill, which included vital paper trail legislation for Florida's elections.
Because of the law, the Party requested an extension to submit its Delegate Selection Plan so that it could continue reviewing options for complying with DNC rules; a June 15th deadline was set.
The Party will submit a working version of the Plan to the DNC by the June 15th deadline and resubmit the final version later this summer.