Feb 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

2 Florida Democrats sue to disqualify Sanders from state primary

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Two Florida Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block Sen. Bernie Sanders — a self-declared independent — from appearing on the state's primary ballot next month on the grounds of Florida having a closed primary system, Politico reports.

The big picture: Florida's closed primary system does not allow individuals to cast votes across party lines or for independents or third-party voters to participate. Sanders is an independent who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, but is currently the front-runner in the Democratic primary for president.

  • The suit is backed by two resident Florida Democrats: Frank Bach and George Brown.

What they're saying: Karen Gievers, a former Florida circuit court judge representing the plaintiffs, said, "Florida is a closed primary state, yet here we have someone who is an independent on the Democratic ballot. You can’t be an independent and be a member of the party."

  • Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, countered: "The Florida Democratic Party executive committee voted unanimously to place Senator Sanders on the Florida ballot. Votes cast for the senator are valid and must be counted.”

Between the lines: Florida law does allow political parties to determine which candidates appear on their primary ballot, and Sanders appeared on the Florida primary ballot in 2016.

  • The move comes as Sanders is facing major backlash in Florida, which has a large Cuban population, over his comments praising aspects of Fidel Castro's dictatorship.
  • Sanders, a democratic socialist, said during a "60 Minutes" interview that he condemns Castro's authoritarianism, but that not everything the Cuban leader did was bad.
  • "He had a massive literacy program," Sanders said. "Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?"

Go deeper: Bernie Sanders' rise forces media to reckon with how to cover him

Go deeper

Joe Biden projected to win Florida primary

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to win the Democratic primary in Florida, according to AP.

Why it matters: The Florida primary offers the most delegates of the three states voting on Tuesday, with 219 out of 441 delegates up for grabs. Illinois and Arizona are also voting today.

AFL-CIO presidential forum canceled over coronavirus concerns

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden during the Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas, last year. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The AFL-CIO presidential forum that was to be held in Orlando, Florida, this week has been canceled because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson said in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders were due to appear at the forum on Thursday, ahead of the Florida primaries on March 17.

Go deeper: Two dead in Florida after exposure to coronavirus from international travel

Bloomberg: "I don't think I can win" without a contested convention

Mike Bloomberg on Super Tuesday at El Pub Restaurant restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

MIAMI, Fla. — Mike Bloomberg told reporters Tuesday that he has "no intention of dropping out" of the presidential race despite calls for Democratic moderates to coalesce around Joe Biden, adding that his path to the nomination depends on a contested convention.

Why it matters: Today's Super Tuesday contests are the first with Bloomberg's name on the ballot — marking the first measure of whether he has a real shot at the Democratic nomination.