- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida Democrats would forfeit their votes in selecting a presidential nominee unless they delay their state election by at least a week, the national party said in a stern action Saturday meant to discourage others from leapfrogging ahead to earlier dates.

The Florida party has 30 days to submit an alternative to its planned Jan. 29 primary or lose its 210 delegates to the nominating convention in Denver next summer.

The state party chairwoman, Karen Thurman, said she would confer with state officials about the ultimatum. “It’s going to be a difficult discussion,” she said, because Floridians are wary of having their votes taken away.

Elected officials in Florida have said they would consider legal action and a protest at the convention if the national party barred the state’s delegates.

There is general agreement that the eventual nominee will seat Florida’s delegates rather than allow a fight at a convention intended to show party unity. But the decision by the Democratic National Committee’s rules panel could reduce Florida’s influence because candidates may want to campaign in states where the votes are counted.

Florida party officials said they originally opposed the early primary date, which covers both the Democratic and Republican primaries. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the change and the GOP governor signed it into law in an effort to give the state a more prominent voice in national politics.