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FL Dems To DNC: Take That!

In an open letter emailed to Florida Democrats, state party chairwoman Karen Thurman pledged this weekend to make her state's January 29 primary binding. "Don't let anybody call this vote a 'beauty contest' or a 'straw poll,'" she wrote. The move comes just weeks after the Democratic National Committee voted to strip Florida of all its delegates to the convention if the party went ahead with a primary planned before the official opening of the window in which states are allowed to hold nominating contests.

The Florida Democratic Party launched a website, MakeItCountFlorida.com, dedicated to trumpeting their contest, and urging Democrats to participate not only in the presidential primary but in state and local referenda the party calls crucial.

Florida Democrats are operating from a position of strength. While Democratic presidential candidates have signed a pledge, put forward by state parties in early states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, promising not to campaign in Florida, the primary will still make news. And, at the end of the day, no nominee will want to exclude a state from the convention.

The Democratic nominee, who will have considerable influence over the makeup of the DNC credentials committee, will likely exert pressure to include delegates from Florida or other states in order to fully include what remains a crucial swing state.

Florida's move, and decisions by candidates to sign onto the pledge, is likely a boon to front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Without the benefit of sustained campaigning in the Sunshine State, voters will only be exposed to national media coverage, which is largely concerned with the race's two superstars.

The other fallout: WIth the increasing chaos, party leaders may finally decide that the primary calendar in 2012 should look much different from the calendar this year. Both parties are exploring ways to exert any control they can over states, and Florida's move, along with that of Michigan and many other states who moved their contests up to February 5th, could prove the impetus to finally do something.