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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

DNC, Dean respond



The Democratic National Committee thinks Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Alcee Hastings are all wet.

In a legal response to the Democratic duo's lawsuit over the decision to strip Florida's delegates to the party's national convention, the DNC contends that the case has no merit and, like the Florida Democrats themselves, it should be tossed out on its rear.

National Democrats punished  their Florida cousins after the state Legislature moved Florida's presidential primary to Jan. 29, a week earlier than allowed under DNC rules. Hastings, of Miramar, and Nelson sued the DNC and Chairman Howard Dean on grounds that making Florida's primary moot was unconstitutional, because it would disenfranchise voters, including many minorities.

In the response, filed Tuesday in federal court in Tallahassee, the DNC says that's ridiculous. Federal judges have long given the national parties leeway to operate as they see fit. And even if the primary is conducted by the state, the party still has the power to decide whether or not to seat the delegates at this summer's national convention in Denver, the DNC claims.

The response also says Florida Democrats shouldn't have gone along so readily when the Legislature moved the primary, and that they erred in rejecting suggestions for getting legal, including choosing delegates through a ballot-by-mail election and holding statewide caucuses.

A spokesman for Nelson said "there are no excuses that justify the DNC ignoring the votes in a lawful election."

Nelson and Hastings are expected to file a motion this week seeking a quick hearing on the case. Meanwhile, most of the Democratic candidates for president are boycotting the state at the behest of the four approved early choosers, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada.

Last week, by the way, that Republican National Committee announced that Florida will be losing half its delegates to the GOP convention for holding the early primary. By contrast, however, the Republican candidates are flocking to the Sunshine State like Canadians in December.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:24am]


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