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Dem presidential candidates left off the FL ballot are digging in; party is standing by the process

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Dem presidential candidates left off the FL ballot are digging in; party is standing by the process

Dec 01, 2023 | 7:56 pm ET
By Mitch Perry
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Dem presidential candidates left off the FL ballot are digging in; party is standing by the process
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President Joe Biden addressing a Democratic Party rally at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens on Nov. 1 (photo by Mitch Perry)

As of Friday, three Democratic presidential candidates are stuck and unable to get on the March primary ballot in Florida — and they say it’s suppressing democracy.

At issue is that the Florida Democratic Party has submitted only President Joe Biden’s name on the March 2024 presidential primary ballot. Biden is dominating the Democratic race for president, with an average lead of approximately 60 points over any other contender in the presidential race, according to RealClearPolitics.

But Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, author and former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and “The Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur said Friday that they’re still pushing to get their own names on the primary ballot in Florida.

Williamson and Uygur together sent a letter to the Florida Democratic Party on Friday, asking for their names to be submitted to the Florida Secretary of State’s office, according to comments they made during a Zoom press conference.

Uygur says that if the state party doesn’t submit their names to get on the ballot, they will make an “implementation challenge” to both the FDP and the Democratic National Committee and “try to actually get them to follow their own rules and by-laws.”

“Because we are correct,” he said at the Zoom conference call. “The FDP is incorrect in how they are applying these rules.  That implementation challenge has succeeded before. It will likely succeed in this case if we have to go to it and it’s just flat out embarrassing for the FDP leadership that they have to be forced to follow their own rules.”

The Phillips campaign said on Thursday and Williamson and Uygur said on Friday that they will go to court if it comes to that.

“We’re not trying to create a conflict here,” Uygur said. “We’re just trying to do the bare minimum of getting on the ballot. And we’ve all earned it, and there’s no need for this conflict.”

Phillips did not participate in the remote press conference on Friday, but an official for his campaign told the Phoenix that “we are not part of their letter, but we strongly support it and are sending a letter as well.”

Uygur said that the three candidates were contacted by Florida Democratic Party officials on Wednesday — one day before the deadline for the party to send the names of the candidates who would appear on the ballot — and were informed that the party’s State Executive Committee had met at the state convention on Oct. 29 and submitted the approved candidate list to the Secretary of State on Nov. 1.

“We’re aware of the rules of the different states,” Uygur said on Friday. “We’re all trying very, very hard to abide by those rules.”

But he said what the FDP has done was “absurd, ridiculous, counterproductive [and] done obviously in secret, obviously to help the incumbent Joe Biden, and it needs to be reversed.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Democratic Party is defending itself.

“The process to be on the Florida ballot has been publicly available on our website. It clearly states that the Florida Democratic Party’s primary ballot is submitted to the Secretary of State by November 30, 2023,” said Eden Giagnorio, communications director for the party, in a written statement on Thursday. “This is the standard process. The State Executive Committee meets to vote to place candidates on the presidential primary ballot at the Florida Democratic Party’s State Convention every four years.”

On Friday, Giagnorio said the three candidates did not receive any votes from the State’s Executive Committee in October and that’s why they are not on the primary ballot.

Giagnorio said that according to Florida law, if there is one presidential candidate, neither the name of the candidate nor the names of the delegates shall be printed on the ballot, and Biden will be declared the automatic winner of the primary. “There will be no primary,” she said.

But Williamson appeared on the March 2020 Democratic presidential primary ballot in Florida when she was previously a candidate. The Phoenix asked her on Friday if she was aware if she had done anything differently this time around.

“Well in 2020 I was in the debates,” she said. “So it was very difficult to claim that I wasn’t a candidate in 2020. And to be honest, it’s very difficult to claim that the rest of us aren’t on the ballots, aren’t candidates this time…They’re doing this just because they can and we’re here because we want to make clear that they can’t.”

Carlos Cardona, Williamson’s campaign manager, said that he spoke with Phillip Jerez, the Florida Democratic Party executive director on Thursday, and said he had made the exact same point. He also said that he had mentioned Williamson’s poll numbers. She polled at 12% in an NBC News survey released last month, while a Fox News survey has her at 13%.