Democratic Debacle

FAU will be hosting a nationally televised presidential debate one week before Florida votes in the primary on Jan. 29. The rest of the nation won’t be voting in the primary until early March, and it seems not everyone is okay with that.

After Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature moved the primary votes in front of the electoral process along with three other states (New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina), the National Democratic Party decided to penalize Florida voters.

A “four-state” pledge was signed by Democratic candidates promising not to campaign in states that violate the national party primary schedule. Florida and Michigan will be affected by the pledge although, the decision to visit red tagged areas is still up to individual candidates.

FAU’s Chief of Staff and Director of Board Operations Jennifer O’Flannery says the pledge should not affect Democratic candidates from participating in the debate.

“We have a good feeling the candidates will not want to pass up the chance to broadcast a debate to nearly one million viewers.”

O’Flannery and the rest of FAU might be confident because of the recent letter signed by Democratic chairmen that allowed the Arab American Institute in Michigan to host a Democratic debate next month. Michigan has an even earlier primary election on Jan. 15, two weeks before Florida.

Leadership Florida, a non-profit state organization, chose FAU over 10 other universities to host the debate. Wendy Abberger, president of Leadership Florida, says FAU was chosen mainly for the convenience of NBC News. “I am confident the Democratic candidates will attend because it is a national debate not specific to Florida and has nothing to do with the parties pledge to not campaign in Florida.”

The national Democratic Party did send a preferable date for the debate.

“It’s a good sign that we received that message,” Abberger says. “They would already have stated any concern over the debate if there was a problem.”

Neither FAU nor Leadership Florida can confirm what dates the Democratic candidates will be on campus, but it will be on either Jan. 23 or 25.