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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nelson: New Dem primary




Sen. Bill Nelson introduces Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton during a January campaign rally in Davie, Florida. [Getty Images]

Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida’s senior Democrat and the titular head of the state party, reversed course and called for a new primary election this afternoon. He also demanded that the Democratic National Committee pay for it, even though DNC Chairman Howard Dean has said no and the party lacks the jack.

“With two outstanding candidates battling so closely for their party’s nomination, there’s no way you can tell nearly two-million Florida voters they don’t count,” Nelson said in a statement.

Nelson supports Sen. Hillary Clinton, who won the Jan. 29 primary in Florida and Jan. 15 primary in Michigan, and he had argued that Clinton should get to count the delegates she won in those states.

But that would be anathema to Sen. Barck Obama, since none of the candidates campaigned in the states, and counting Florida and Michigan's January primary elections is unlikely to happen.

In changing his position and asking for a new primary, Nelson said, “We can’t go on and ignore two of the largest and most important states.”

But holding another primary would cost an estimated $25-million; even if the DNC wanted to pay for it, the party had just $2.9-million in the bank as of Dec. 31.

Asked on The Early Show on CBS this morning if the DNC would pay for new contests in Florida or Michigan, Dean said, "Of course not. We can't afford to do that. That's not our problem. We need our money to win the presidential race."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:16pm]


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