NOTE: Please see the follow up post for a clarification on the timing of the county caucuses and state convention for Florida Democrats in 2012.
The Florida Democratic Party today released its draft 2012 delegate selection plan. Given the very real possibility that Governor Rick Scott (R) will sign HB 1355 into law and that that would create the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee to schedule a presidential primary between the first Tuesday of January and the first Tuesday in March, Florida Democrats are facing a dilemma. They could allocate delegates during the likely non-compliant earlier primary and take the penalties from the DNC for violating the party's rules; repeating the 2008 scenario.1 The alternative would be to hold a primary or caucus at the state party's expense on a non-compliant date or dates.
Florida Democrats appear to be leaning toward the latter:
"Should the Republicans break the rules, we will not be participating in the primary," said state Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff. "Democrats from across Florida would be invited to attend county caucuses held in June which will be used to allocate the delegates appropriately."That statement, however, differed from the press release announcing the opening of the public comment period for the delegate selection plan.
That discrepancy is likely not a big deal. First of all, the Democratic nomination is uncontested which makes the delegate allocation process less consequential -- at least in terms of determining the nominee. Second, the state party will not officially make a decision until after both the public comment period has concluded and then after the yet-to-be-approved committee schedules the presidential primary. If that date is on March 6, the Democrats will allocate delegates then. If the primary is earlier, Democrats will hold county caucuses between April 14 and June.
1 Given that Democrats in the Florida legislature proposed a remedy to the primary situation -- legislation to move the primary to March was introduced in both chambers -- the party could petition the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee for a waiver to avoid sanctions. However, it is unclear whether the committee would make an exception in this case. That rule has never been tested in the rogue state era. Recall Democrats in the Florida legislature supported the January primary move in 2007 and later paid the price for it.