Dec. 7 -- If the courts don’t resolve Florida’s presidential election dispute soon, the state’s Republican lawmakers say they will.
As the legal wrangling between Vice President Al Gore and George W. Bush drags on, the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature is poised to take a controversial action that could render moot all of the courtroom quarreling over manual ballot recounts.
“My primary objective is simple: to ensure that the voters of Florida are not disenfranchised,” Senate President John McKay said Wednesday as he announced that a special legislative session would begin at noon on Friday to consider appointing a slate of presidential electors. “It would be irresponsible of us if we failed to put a safety net in place under the current court conditions.”
House Speaker Tom Feeney argued the 6 million Sunshine State voters who went to the polls on Election Day would effectively be disenfranchised if Florida were unable to cast its decisive 25 votes in the Electoral College on Dec. 18.
“I find this a very solemn and important occasion,” said Feeney, a steadfast advocate of a special session. “I believe deeply … that we have a duty to protect Florida’s participation in the Electoral College.”
Both Feeney and McKay are Bush supporters and, given the solid Republican majorities in both bodies, there is little doubt as to which candidate electors appointed by the Legislature would support.
‘Postmark, Austin’ Say Dems
“The only thing missing … was the postmark from Austin, Texas,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Lois Frankel. “It is unreasonable and unfair to ask the Florida Legislature to become the political arm of the Bush campaign.”
When pressed by reporters on whether his efforts were coordinated with the Bush campaign, Speaker Feeney said: “I haven’t had any contact with any members of the Bush team probably since — in a good 24 hours. So, from my perspective, the actions we took … [were] without any advice or guidance or counsel or discussion with either campaign.”