The Democratic National Committee (DNC) Saturday gave the Florida Democratic Party 30 days to submit a new plan for a primary or caucus or lose all of its delegates to the nominating convention.
Adopting a resolution offered by committeeman Ralph Dawson of New York, the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee all but ignored the pleas of the Florida party and voted almost unanimously to strip the state of all its delegates unless it offers a new plan that meets DNC rules.
The state ran afoul of the committee’s new primary rules when it decided to adhere to a new state law that moved the primary to Jan. 29, in violation of the DNC rule preventing unapproved states from holding a nominating contest before Feb. 5. The rules committee officially found the delegate selection plan Florida submitted to be in noncompliance Saturday when it adopted Dawson’s resolution.
Florida party representatives argued unsuccessfully that they should be given an exemption and not be punished because they had taken “provable, positive steps” to obey the rule, but they were unsuccessful because of the actions of a Republican controlled legislature and a Republican governor.
“We’re asking for mercy, not judgment,” Florida DNC member Jon Ausman told the committee.
The rules committee, however, was unmoved by the arguments of the Florida delegation and moved promptly to not only enforce its rules but to make them as harsh as possible.
Any state that moved its primary ahead of the Feb. 5 window automatically loses half of its delegates under the new rules.
Presidential candidates that campaign in a state in violation would lose any delegates they win in that state. But committee co-chairman Jim Roosevelt said after the vote that in this case, there would be “no sanction on the campaigns since there would be no delegates at stake.”
“It’s essentially a beauty contest or a straw poll,” committee co-chairwoman Alexis Herman told reporters.
Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman told reporters after the vote she would take the news back to the executive and central committees of the state party.
“I think it’s going to be a difficult discussion,” Thurman said.
Everyone involved said they are optimistic a solution can be found, and Thurman stated that the 30-day reprieve was the only thing to come out of the meeting that gives her hope.
In adopting the harsh penalties, the rules committee appeared to be sending a message to other state parties and legislatures such as Michigan, that any moves ahead of the Feb. 5 window would be met with stiff penalties and little to no leniency.
The Michigan legislature and state parties have in recent days appeared poised to move its primary to Jan. 15.