Florida and Michigan Have No Case for a Revote

It's simple: The Democrats in both states knew the rules before they violated them.

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ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—Florida may deserve the title of the nation's banana republic. Florida's problems with elections dating back to the chaotic presidential race in 2000 are well known. To the north, Michigan is making a name for itself in Democratic turmoil.

It is beyond time for Florida's Democratic officials to stop moaning about their loss of delegates to the party's convention in Denver. They knew exactly what they were doing when they violated party rules and pushed their primary ahead of the national party schedule.

The St. Petersburg Times conducted a survey of Sunshine State Democrats in which a strong majority expressed anger at the national party for dismissing the primary results here. That anger is directed at the wrong target. The state officials deserve the blame.

Florida Chair Karen Thurman and senior Sen. Bill Nelson are appearing regularly on newscasts to complain about the "injustice" done to voters. That may cheer the party faithful, but they have no legitimate case.

For now, it looks as though there will be no revote in Florida or in Michigan. There is no agreement on paying for it, the methodology to hold it, or even when to vote. The Clinton and Obama campaigns remain far apart on any agreement to settle this mess.

In Michigan, Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot. Fairness would rule out paying attention to the results from its primary this winter; it was held in violation of national party rules. Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Clinton supporter, complains like her colleagues in Florida, and she's just as off base as they are.

Here's a solution offered by James Naughton, a former managing editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and now retired director of the Poynter Institute here. Naughton would take the 366 delegates in the two states, divide them by two, and then subtract the number needed for nomination currently by Clinton and Obama.

Perhaps that is too reasonable to escape further dissension. But if this fight goes to the floor of the convention this summer, it will only hurt the party's chances in November against John McCain. It will give merit to the old saw that Democrats form a firing squad in a circle.

On the subject of problems, what are Govs. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jon Corzine of New Jersey, both Clinton backers, doing by raising money for revotes? They should keep their politics at home without creating mischief elsewhere.

The hour is growing late for Democrats to resolve this. You can already hear Republicans laughing.