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Democratic Party stalling on Florida, DNC member says

A Florida Democratic National Committee member trying to give Florida a voice in the Democratic presidential nomination is fed up with the brushoff he says he's getting from the party.

"There's obviously a stall going on. … They're treating Florida worse than their own dog,'' said Jon Ausman of Tallahassee, who five weeks ago filed two appeals with the DNC's rules and bylaws committee, arguing that the committee overstepped its authority in stripping away Florida's delegates to the national convention.

For weeks, Ausman said he has been unable to get calls returned by the prominent co-chairs of that committee, Alexis Herman and Jim Roosevelt, or any word on how the committee will proceed. Either they want to wait until a candidate drops out of the race or don't want to admit they made a mistake in punishing Florida so severely for setting a primary earlier than DNC rules allowed, Ausman said.

"They need to step up to the plate or they just need to admit what they're going to do, which is nothing. Obviously the process and the rules don't count,'' said Ausman, a party rules maven, whose appeals were seen as the fastest vehicle for getting Florida's delegate controversy resolved.

Neither Roosevelt nor Herman could be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, on Monday called on DNC chairman Howard Dean to release the confidential staff recommendations on Ausman's appeal.

"Under the process, staff had two weeks to make their recommendation to the co-chairs, which they have done. The co-chairs are now reviewing the recommendation. When they decide how to proceed, it will be made public,'' said DNC spokesman Luis Miranda.

Nelson and Hastings had previously unsuccessfully sued to force the DNC to recognize Florida's Jan. 29 primary, and in Dade City on Monday, Nelson said he feared Democrats could lose the White House if they leave the delegate problems with Florida and Michigan unresolved.

"Eventually this whole thing will blow up in the Democratic Party's face," Nelson said, predicting "blood on the floor" if no solution is found. "The chairman ought to be cracking the whip, saying we ought to solve this thing. It should have been solved 10 months ago."

If the rules and bylaws committee doesn't take action, it will be left to another DNC committee to act on Florida and Michigan in July or August.

Times staff writer Chuin-Wei Yap contributed to this report. Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com or (727)893-8241.

Democratic Party stalling on Florida, DNC member says 04/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 28, 2008 5:35pm]

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