# Florida

Georgia runoff leaves no chance of 60-seat majority

We’re destined to find out whether the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate can break the record number of filibusters they set in 2007 and 2008.

Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss dramatically improved on his November 4 showing to win the runoff Senate election in Georgia by at least 10 points. The result doomed Democratic hopes of a 60-seat majority in the upper chamber.

It’s disappointing but not too surprising. Chambliss would have won outright on November 4 if not for Georgia’s unusual state law requiring the winner to receive 50 percent of the vote. Furthermore, Chambliss would have received 50 percent if not for extremely high black turnout with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, which benefited Democratic Senate candidate Jim Martin. Also, a Libertarian candidate won enough votes from Georgia conservatives last month to keep Chambliss from winning a majority.

I appreciate the tremendous campaign that Martin ran, which made a race out of what was supposed to be a Kansas or Oklahoma-style romp for the incumbent in this very red state. Unfortunately for Martin, turnout was light today, especially among black voters any Georgia Democrat needs to have a chance of winning a statewide election.

Democrats still have a chance to gain a 59th seat in the Senate, depending on what happens this month in Minnesota. The state canvassing board will consider thousands of challenged ballots, and the margin between Al Franken and Norm Coleman appears to be very slim. The outcome may depend on whether more than 1,000 absentee ballots that were rejected because of clerical errors are counted. Many observers expect this contest to end up in court. It’s also possible that the U.S. Senate could get involved, as it did following an extremely close and disputed Senate race in New Hampshire in 1974.

Don’t despair, Democrats: we still have a decent number of Senate pickup opportunities in 2010. Just today, Florida Republican Mel Martinez announced that he does not plan to run for re-election.

Why hasn't EMILY's List gotten behind Becky Greenwald?

Maybe someone out there who knows the inner workings of EMILY’s List can explain to me why this group has not put money behind Becky Greenwald, the Democrat challenging loyal Republican foot-soldier Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

I have been going over the list of Democratic women running for Congress whom EMILY’s List is supporting, with a particular focus on the six challengers most recently added to this group in early August. I do not mean to knock any of those candidates, and I recognize that every race has its own dynamic.

However, after comparing Greenwald’s race to those of other candidates, I remain puzzled that EMILY’s list is not more involved in IA-04.  

Follow me after the jump for more.

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Someway, somehow, Michigan and Florida votes must be counted

As I’ve written before, I believe that some compromise must be found to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida at the Democratic National Convention.

By “compromise,” I don’t mean the Obama campaign’s proposal to give both Clinton and Obama 50 percent of the delegates from each state, which would disregard the will of the people. I mean a compromise that would reflect how Democrats in those states voted.

I was open to a re-vote, but that idea has been killed in Florida and appears less and less likely in Michigan.

Obama supporter Gordon Fischer celebrates the way they Obama campaign ran out the clock on re-votes.

Obama supporter noneed4thneed doesn’t see why Obama should back a re-vote in Michigan.

Obama supporter Chris Bowers made a much stronger case that Obama should want a re-vote in Michigan, since it would very likely allow him to wrap up the nomination in June rather than having things drag out to a floor fight at the convention.

To my mind, the key question should be not what is best for Obama, but the principle of counting people’s votes and the pragmatic need for Democrats not to alienate voters in two large states.

We cannot afford to go into the general election having angered Democrats in Michigan and Florida, particularly since both Obama and Clinton currently trail John McCain in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

New polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Florida Democrats want their votes to be counted, and one-fourth of them may leave the Democratic Party if that does not happen.

Look, Obama fans, if you are so confident that your guy will hold on to his lead in pledged delegates and the popular vote, you should have been lobbying for re-votes. Now that a re-vote is off the table for Florida and possibly Michigan, you should be open to some compromise that reflects the way Democrats voted (such as cutting the number of delegates from each state in half).

This situation is screwed up, and many parties are to blame, but the rank-and-file Democrats in those states did not create this problem.

It will be suicide for Obama to go into the general telling Michigan and Florida voters, “I’m sorry, you broke the rules, I don’t care about letting you have a say in the primaries.”

Obama fears a re-vote in Florida and Michigan

Since Barack Obama’s supporters claim he is running a people-powered campaign, I’m surprised they are not more upset that he is working behind the scenes to derail any plan for Michigan and Florida to redo their primaries.

As you know, the DNC stripped both states of their delegates for moving their primaries up to January. No one campaigned in either state, and Hillary Clinton won both primaries, although in Michigan hers was the only name on the ballot, with supporters of Obama and other candidates voting “uncommitted.”

Given how close this primary campaign is, and how important Michigan and Florida are in the general election, it seems only logical to find some compromise that would allow delegates from those states to be seated at the Democratic National Convention this summer. I understand why Obama doesn’t want to accept the delegate allocations from the January primaries, because he didn’t campaign in either state.

However, I don’t see the rationale for his campaign ruling out re-votes in both states. Why does Obama fear taking a few weeks after Pennsylvania to campaign in Michigan and Florida so that Democrats can express their preferences? Money is not a problem for him–he has more cash on hand than Clinton.

One compromise that seems sensible to me is a mail-in election in both states, which would be much less costly than restaging an ordinary primary. But Obama’s co-chair in Michigan has ruled that out, claiming that

“It disenfranchises people who need to participate and there are many questions with regard to security.”

Hunter said the Obama campaign will accept nothing but a 50-50 split of Michigan delegates between Clinton and Obama, who removed his name from the January ballot here in protest of the early date.

I don’t understand how a mail-in ballot disenfranchises anyone. If anything, the experience of Oregon shows that it would lead to much greater participation.

And what justification is there for a 50-50 delegate split out of Michigan? That is essentially the same thing as not counting Michigan voters at all.

But wait, it gets better: Obama is a co-sponsor of a bill in the U.S. Senate called

“The Universal Right To Vote By Mail Act”, which declares that NOT ALLOWING mail in voting in every state (28 do through absentee balloting) disenfranchises voters […]

That’s right, Barack Obama, who thinks all states should allow mail-in voting, has suddenly decided in the middle of a tough primary that it would not be fair to let Michigan and Florida Democrats mail in ballots.

He appears to be afraid of losing high-turnout elections in those states. And no wonder: he seems to do a lot better in lower-turnout caucuses (in some states getting two, three or four times as many delegates as Clinton) than in large-state primaries.

In addition, the demographics of Florida (lots of seniors, Latinos and Jews) and Michigan (lots of working-class whites and Catholics) seem to favor Clinton.

Talk Left commenter Steve M (a Clinton supporter) linked to these comments at the Michigan Liberal blog, in which Obama supporters in Michigan criticize the stance his campaign is taking against a re-vote.

Does Obama want to go into a general-election campaign having demanded that Florida and Michigan residents not have their votes counted in the primary?

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Florida primary results open thread

Sigh. McCain pulled this one out and is the clear front-runner, especially since Rudy Giuliani is going to endorse him. I was hoping Rudy wouldn’t finish in the top three in a single state.

On the bright side, Romney has more money, and conservative groups are starting to target McCain, with ads such as this one comparing McCain to Hillary Clinton:


Results with 77 percent of precincts reporting:

McCain 615,203 (36%)

Romney 531,139 (31%)

Giuliani 252,925 (15%)

Huckabee 228,687 (14%)

Paul 55,070 (3%)

Thompson 20,231 (1%)

Clinton 753,543 (50%)

Obama 497,341 (33%)

Edwards 218,899 (14%)

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When is a Press Conference Not Campaigning

(I think it was breaking the pledge, but it doesn't seem like it was willful. - promoted by Simon Stevenson)

According to the Tampa Tribune:

Obama also appeared to violate a pledge he and the other leading candidates took not to campaign in Florida before the primary.


After the fundraiser at Scarritt’s Hyde Park home, Obama crossed the street to take half a dozen questions from reporters waiting there.

The pledge covers anything referred to in Democratic National Committee rules as “campaigning,” and those rules include “holding news conferences.”

Obama seemed unaware of that. Asked whether he was violating the pledge, he said, “I was just doing you guys a favor. … If that’s the case, then we won’t do it again.”

That was less than a day after the pledge took effect Saturday, and Obama is the first Democratic presidential candidate to visit Florida since then.

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Iowa Dems Should Fight for Penalties on Florida and Candidates Who Campaign There

With this post I’m likely to become a fairly unpopular member of the liberal blogosphere, or at least the segment of bloggers like Markos who take pride in bashing Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.  But as I wrote about on Bleeding Heartland yesterday and today on Political Forecast, the South Carolina GOP’s decision to move up their primary has created huge problems in the national calendar for selecting a nominee for president–and this is the case in both parties.

Carrie Giddins, the IDP’s Communications Director, released this statement earlier today:

“The South Carolina Republicans won’t dictate what Iowa does. The Iowa Democratic Party, our Chairman and our State Central Committee, will make a decision regarding the date of our caucuses with Governor Chet Culver, Senator Tom Harkin and other political leaders that protects Iowa’s interests.

The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for January 14th, 2008 and we are moving forward with plans for that date.

Iowa will hold the first in the nation caucuses.”

Carrie’s pretty direct, and having met with her before, she’s serious when she says that Iowa will hold the nation’s first caucus.  And I’ve got no doubt that she and others inside the Iowa Democratic Party are pissed with Katon Dawson and South Carolina Republicans.  I’m sure folks at the Republican Party of Iowa are just as pissed as well.

To the best of my knowledge, on August 25th the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will be meeting in Washington, DC, and will be debating whether or not to penalize Florida Democrats because of the decision by the Florida legislature to move their primary from February 5th to January 29th.  The penalty Florida faces is basically a preliminary wrist-slap that says “we won’t seat your delegates at the DNC Convention next August.”  The thing is, whomever has the nomination is going to demand Florida’s delegates be seated–for all practical purposes the nominee trumps the existing DNC chair and will dictate from that point on what will happen.

However, last August the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee hammered out their new rules which would again penalize state parties as mentioned above, but also penalize candidates who campaigned in early states.  From the DNC website:

“There is a new rule that imposes new sanctions on presidential candidates. If a state, any state, violates the rule on timing/the window, presidential candidates will face sanctions if they campaign in that state. Examples of campaigning include: making personal appearances in the state, hiring campaign workers, and buying advertising and so on.

Currently, the only punishment for states that violate the window was on State Parties. This new enforcement provision recognizes that presidential candidates must also bear a responsibility in enforcing the window or face sanctions.”

The window the DNC is talking about is that on or after February 5th, every other state besides Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina could hold their state’s caucus or primary (effectively declaring that Tuesday to be the official “Super Tuesday”).

So what I’m looking for on August 25th in DC is for Iowa’s Democratic representative on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, First Vice Chair Sarah Swisher, to stand up and demand that Florida get their slap on the wrist as well as get a statement from the committee reaffirming its commitment that should any candidate campaign in Florida that they should be penalized.

As the New York Times reported after the new rules were passed:

“The sanctions will be directed at candidates who campaign in any state that refuses to follow a 2008 calendar of primaries and caucuses that was also approved Saturday. Any candidate who campaigns in a state that does not abide by the new calendar will be stripped at the party convention of delegates won in that state.”

Coincidently enough, even if Iowa is forced to move our caucus date before the DNC scheduled date of January 14th, we’re still safe from sanctions because Iowa Democrats don’t actually select delegates to the DNC National Convention until the late spring or summer state convention.

So, essentially, Iowa can’t be punished for responding to Florida and the South Carolina GOP’s moves, but we should ask for strong punishments and statements from the DNC reaffirming Iowa’s position as first in the nation, at least for this cycle.

We’ve had a tried and true method that has worked and framed the start of the presidential campaign season for thirty years.  We must act to protect this tradition–and Iowa Democrats should expect the IDP and its leadership to fight hard for our status.

And as a quick note, if any of my dates or information are factually wrong, please let me know in the comments as soon as possible.

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Coming December 2007: The Iowa Caucuses?

UPDATE (6:44 PM Central Time): So here’s the deal.  A December caucus date is seeming a bit less likely.  At least that’s according to the calculations that Chris Bowers over at Open Left has provided to readers.  His calendar shapes out like this:

  • Friday, January 4th: Iowa caucuses
  • Saturday, January 12th: New Hampshire primary
  • Saturday, January 19th: Nevada Democratic caucus, South Carolina Republican primary
  • Tuesday, January 29th: Florida primary, South Carolina Democratic primary
  • Tuesday, February 5th: Super Tuesday

His reasoning, again, is here and worth a read.

And one more thing.  Gov. Culver talked with Kay Henderson and others today emphasizing his support for Iowa as first-in-the-nation state.  And he says that Iowa will be first, no matter what.

– – – – – – – – – –

Oh holy hell.  I really wish I could confirm with any ease the exact date of the Iowa Caucuses but it seems likely not to count on January 14th, 2008, anymore.

First, I’ll let you read what my friend John Deeth reported: That the South Carolina GOP Chair will announce in New Hampshire that he’s moving his primary date earlier than their scheduled February 2nd, 2008, primary.

Now, according to Marc Ambinder and others, it looks like the South Carolina GOP will announce in NH that they’re moving their primary to January 19th, a full three days before the NH primary.  By announcing the move in NH, it seems likely that the NH Secretary of State will move his state’s primary up to Monday, January 7th, or Tuesday, January 9th.  That would almost guarantee an Iowa Caucus date in December of 2007, unless both the IDP and the RPI decide to hold the Iowa Caucuses on Friday, January 4th.  That doesn’t seem likely as its right after the new year.

Other complications still exist.  On August 25th, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet to decide whether or not to sanction Florida Democrats because their state’s primary is now on January 29th (thanks to a Republican Florida legislature and governor).  Florida Democrats are seeking an exemption, but it is likely that Iowa Democrats will fight hard for sanctions to Florida’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention next summer in Denver.  The outcome of the Rules and Bylaws meeting is still quite up in the air.

Also, South Carolina Democrats are still planning their primary for January 29th, which means they’ll still actually be on schedule.

Michigan is still considering moving its primary to January 29th as well, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm is facing pressure not to sign a bill that would move the primary earlier (but also faces pressure from in-state Democrats like Sen. Carl Levin to move the date earlier–as a sidenote, Levin is crybaby who is just pissed that Nevada and South Carolina were the states that the DNC picked to insert into the IA-NH domination).

Summary: If you’re planning to caucus, keep the months of December and January open.

And if you want to keep track of the best news on the primary/caucus schedule, try Ballot Access News.

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