Cenk Uygur: Dems' Move to Cancel FL Presidential Primary 'An Insult' to Voters

Created: 05 December, 2023
Updated: 19 January, 2024
3 min read

The Florida Democratic Party has effectively canceled its 2024 presidential primary after it only submitted President Joe Biden's name to the secretary of state for the party's ballot. Under state law, an uncontested race does not appear on the ballot and therefore denies voters an opportunity to be heard. 

Despite claims from the party of "no conspiracy," the move has angered candidates who wanted to challenge Biden's incumbency.

Young Turks creator and prospective presidential candidate Cenk Uygur stood alongside another challenger to Biden, Marianne Williamson, when he was quoted saying, "We're just trying to do the bare minimum of getting on the ballot. And we've all earned it, and there is no need for this conflict."

Democratic US Rep. Dean Phillips (Minnesota), who is also trying to get on the Florida Democratic primary ballot, is considering a lawsuit against the party, challenging the legitimacy of Florida's delegation at the 2024 Democratic National Committee, or even an outright challenge to Biden's nomination at the convention.

Update on 12/8/2023: A lawsuit was filed on December 5 on behalf of US Rep Phillips against the Florida Democratic Party and the Florida secretary of state. More information on the lawsuit will be added in a future piece. 

The communications team for the Democratic Party of Florida has issued a response to the controversy created by the decision, stating that the process the party undergoes when determining what names are submitted to the secretary of state was posted on the party's website for months and that there "was no conspiracy."

Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald reports that the party's delegate selection plan does not include a deadline for candidates. What's more, spokespeople for the party say the decision to cancel the state's presidential primary was made weeks ago, which means potential candidates didn't know they had even less time to submit their names.

That is, if the party even cared about additional names being submitted in the first place. Phillips' campaign reportedly said it sent letters to the Florida Democratic Party on November 7 for the primary that is set to happen on March 19, 2024. The party didn't confirm it was in contact with the campaign until November 22.

The state has approximately 4.5 million registered Democrats -- none of whom will be able to express their opinions on the incumbent president or would-be challengers at the ballot box despite nearly 40% of party voters casting a ballot for Biden's opponents in the 2020 presidential primary.

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"It’s an insult to Democratic voters and a disservice to local elections being held the same day," writes the Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board. "It also sets a very bad precedent at a time when democratic, small d values are struggling nationwide. Democrats are supposed to be the party of expanding voter participation — remember?"

In truth, the party is most concerned with who benefits from that participation, but this sentiment was also shared by Uygur in a statement shared by The Hill:

"The number one problem with what the Florida Democratic Party is doing is not how it affects me Marianne and Dean [Phillips]. It’s how it affects the Florida Democratic voters. They are robbing them of their voice. They’re saying the democracy is not important, that you should not participate in the process."

National polling shows the president's favorability at lower levels than many Democrats are comfortable with going into 2024, especially among independent voters -- who will tilt states like Florida one way or the other. And, Florida could make or break the election for either major party's nominee.

So, what message does the effective cancelation of the presidential primary and refusing to submit additional candidate names to the secretary of state send to the rest of the country at a time when trust in the major parties is at all-time lows?

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