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The Republican Party’s sordid history in Florida shows just how far they’ll go to save Trump

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President George W. Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln to address the nation and sailors upon their return from their record-breaking 10-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Tyler J. Clements/U.S. Navy)

Those who forget history, the old saying goes, are doomed to repeat it.

“Lawmakers on both sides indicated Tuesday that the Republican-dominated Legislature will call a special session by the end of the week to appoint its own slate of delegates to the electoral college,” wrote Jeffrey Gettleman for The Los Angeles Times on November 29, 2000.

Republicans in Florida were preparing to direct their electors to vote for George W. Bush even if the Florida Supreme Court-ordered recount found that Al Gore actually won the state.

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The evening before, The New York Times published an article by David Barstow and Somini Sengupta which laid it out bluntly.

“The president of Florida’s Senate said today that Gov. Jeb Bush had indicated his willingness to sign special legislation intended to award Florida’s 25 Electoral College votes to his brother Gov. George W. Bush of Texas even as the election results were being contested,” they wrote.

The leader of Florida’s House Democrats in 2000, Representative Lois Frankel, told the Times, “He’s saying, ‘If my brother [loses], boys, go ahead and we’ll get him elected another way.’”

And the Florida legislators were in full action mode, with the blessing of Jeb Bush, according to the Times:

Hours after Mr. Gore, the Democratic nominee, filed papers here formally contesting Florida’s election results, John McKay, the Republican who is the Senate president, told reporters about a conversation he had had with Jeb Bush last week in which they discussed whether Mr. Bush should sign the bill. …

Last week, in a conversation with Tom Feeney, the speaker of the House, Mr. Bush said Republican legislators would need to demonstrate political courage in calling a special session [to direct the electoral college vote to his brother]. Such a session, he predicted, would exact ‘a certain price’ on the Legislature.

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Democrats complained bitterly and sent the Republican leader a strongly worded letter arguing that the GOP’s threat, if carried out, would “place a dark partisan stain on our legislature.”

She added, “The votes have been cast. They just need to be fairly and accurately counted… The State Legislature should not become an arm of any one presidential campaign.”

Republicans laughed.

They were working off legal opinions like the one by John Yoo referenced in the LA Times that “state legislatures – and not any other branch of the state government – are empowered to name delegates to the electoral college.”

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“The complaints have had no apparent impact on the disciplined and determined group of Republicans,” noted the Times, “who control the House by a 77-to-43 margin and the Senate 25 to 15.”

Not knowing that just days later the US Supreme Court would intervene to render unnecessary Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature’s election-stealing program, Florida’s Democratic House Leader Frankel added, “I’m afraid there is little we can do to prevent this horrible outcome from happening. It’s inevitable now.”

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The media today are acting all shocked, shocked, I tell you! that Republicans would consider swing states with GOP legislatures directing their electors to vote for Trump regardless of who won the state.  But this is not new.

Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Republican’s action during the election of 2000 was a dress rehearsal.  There was virtually no national outrage or coverage of the Florida Republicans plan to simply instruct the Florida electors to cast their votes for Bush.

Lesson learned.


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