Cementing its reputation as a political spoiler, Florida Monday scrapped plans for a “do-over” primary, leaving the decision of what to do with a primary that didn’t count up to the national party and the upcoming Democratic convention in Denver.
The decision could be a setback for Presidential contender Hillary Clinton, who agreed to abide by the party’s decision to punish Florida for holding an early primary but now wants to change the rules because she is running behind front-runner Barack Obama.
Facing strong opposition, Florida Democrats on Monday abandoned plans to hold a do-over presidential primary with a mail-in vote and threw the delegate dispute into the lap of the national party.
While the decision by Florida Democrats left the state’s 210 delegates in limbo, Democrats in Michigan moved closer to holding another contest on June 3. Legislative leaders reviewed a measure Monday that would set up a privately funded, state-administered do-over primary, The Associated Press learned.
In Florida, a frustrated Democratic Party chairwoman Karen L. Thurman sent a letter announcing the decision.
“A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it’s simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the party were to pay for it,” Thurman said. “… This doesn’t mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee.”
Members of Florida’s congressional delegation unanimously opposed the plan, and Barack Obama expressed concern about the security of a mail-in vote organized so quickly. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign expressed disappointment with Florida’s decision.
“Today’s announcement brings us no closer to counting the votes of the nearly 1.7 million people who voted in January,” Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said. “We hope the Obama campaign shares our belief that Florida’s voters must be counted and cannot be disenfranchised.”
Obama’s campaign said it looked forward to an agreement on what to do about Florida.
“We hope that all parties can agree on a fair seating of the Florida delegates so that Florida can participate in the Democratic Convention, and we look forward to working with the Florida Democratic Party and competing vigorously in the state so that Barack Obama can put Florida back into the Democratic column in November,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor
The national party punished Michigan and Florida for holding primaries before Feb. 5, stripping them of all their delegates to the party’s national convention this summer in Denver. All the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in the states, and Obama did not appear on Michigan’s ballot.
Clinton won both primaries. As the race with Obama has tightened, she has argued the delegates should be seated or new primaries held.