Is Florida cursed? Was there a moment God looked down from on high and asked Himself, should I make a mockery of the human condition right here in the land of flowers where Spanish adventurers slaughtered tribes, where American regiments hunted Native Americans in the swamps, where birders shot millions for feathered plume hats?
In the April 2007 session of the state legislature, Florida Democrats–the minority party– made a deal with Republicans to move the date of the Presidential primary.
As a result, national Democratic officials decided to penalize Florida, refusing to seat the state’s delegates at the upcoming national convention where the party’s candidate for the November presidential election will be chosen.
“Although pushed by the Legislature’s Republican leaders and signed into law by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, Democrats supported the early primary because it was an amendment tacked onto legislation that mandated a paper trail for Florida election ballots.” (Sun-Sentinel, Sept. 23, 2007)
In August 2007, the DNC (Democratic National Committee) voted to strip Florida of its 210 delegates unless state Democrats agreed to delay the primary by at least a week.
Florida Democrats held their ground, racing forward just like Road Runner in the TV cartoon so proud of his speed that he races off the cliff and hangs in mid-air, looking down before realizing what he’s done. Beep beep.
We will never know whether Republican officials did a little dance to conjure the storm they had drummed up: at the very least, Republican strategist Al Cardenas wrapped up Florida party chairman Karen Thurman in a bear hug.
Now to the particulars.
A year ago, Hillary Clinton appeared to have a lock on the Democratic nomination to be president. Things change: yes they do.
As it stands, the count on Democratic delegates across the nation is nearly even. The key fact is the shift of momentum to Barack Obama. Florida delegates that will not be seated (along with Michigan, punished by the party for similarly breaking ranks by moving its primary date) at the summer convention in Denver could be as pivotal as the superdelegate count.
There are several proposals to resolve the impasse: do something, or, nothing. The “something” requires initiative and money from Florida Democrats-to re-do the primary, now, or to hold a state caucus. It also requires agreement of the DNC and that holds its own set of difficulties, given the strong stand that party leaders took by penalizing Florida and Michigan in the first place. Hillary wants the delegates counted. Barack does not.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks toward the next primaries in Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio.
Such mischief a faun or nymph or sprite could dream up, not a Christian God. Florida, what have you done? Still, Republicans have made such a wreck of the economy, Democrats will have to put on two left shoes to miss their walk to the White House.
ALAN FARAGO of Coral Gables, who writes about the environment and the politics of South Florida, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.