Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amid the presidential hoopla, Floridians vote today on an important policy question. A constitutional amendment on the ballot would create new limits on property taxes and, as a result, cause huge property tax cuts.
Most Republicans, including Governor Charlie Crist, favor the idea. Many Democrats and many local government officials oppose it.
But, if the amendment passes, the man who may be most responsible (other, perhaps, than Crist) is none other than Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
The vote looks as though it will be very close. Constitutional amendments require 60% to pass in Florida and a recent poll showed 55% support, with 14% still undecided.
Turnout dynamics brought about by the presidential primaries are one of the key factors working in favor of the measure. All of the Republican candidates have spent the past week mobilizing voters in Florida for today's crucial primary.
The Democrats? Florida defied DNC rules that limited the states that could hold nominating contests in January. Dean's stand against frontloading stripped the state of its delegates, rendering today's Democratic vote meaningless.
So far, in every state where both the Democrats and the Republicans have had contested primaries or caucuses, the Democratic turnout has been much larger. Even in South Carolina, a solidly Republican state, Democratic turnout was more than 530,000, compared to 445,000 for Republicans.
That's not the case in Florida, however. Florida has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but, in early voting, 65,000 more Republicans have cast ballots than Democrats.
In other words, if the property tax amendment passes narrowly, Florida Democrats will have one more reason to be mad at Howard Dean.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.