Florida Republican pitches bill to ban the state Democratic Party

A Republican in Florida’s Legislature has filed a bill that, if enacted, would eliminate the Florida Democratic Party.

The Ultimate Cancel Act,” filed Tuesday by state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, would require the state’s Division of Elections to “immediately cancel” the filings of any political party whose platform had “previously advocated for, or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude.”

The bill, called SB 1248, would require Florida officials to notify all registered voters who belong to any canceled parties that their parties no longer exist. It would also change their voter registrations to “no party affiliation” and “provide procedures” for those voters to update their affiliations to “an active political party.”

The bill would allow any canceled political parties to re-register with the Florida State Department — but only under the condition that the party change its name to something “substantially different from the name of any other party previously registered” with the agency.

The proposed legislation doesn’t explicitly mention the Democratic Party. But the party, throughout much of the early and mid-1800s, supported slavery. Southern Democrats in particular supported protecting slavery in the U.S. and opposed civil rights reforms for decades after the Civil War. The party underwent a major realignment in the 19th century, and support for such policies has been absent from its platform or general discourse for many years. 

Blaise Ingoglia at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
Blaise Ingoglia at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., on Feb. 7.Phil Sears / AP

Florida Democrats said the intention of the bill was abundantly clear.

“Presenting a bill that would disenfranchise 5 million voters is both unconstitutional and unserious. Under Ron DeSantis, Senator Ingoglia is using his office to push bills that are nothing more than publicity stunts instead of focusing on the issues that matter most to Floridians,” the Florida Democratic Party said in a statement.

Florida Republicans hold a supermajority in the Legislature. Its legislative sessions kick off Tuesday.

Ingoglia suggested in a news release that his bill was designed to get back at Democrats and “leftist activists” who he said had “been trying to ‘cancel’ people and companies for things they have said or done in the past,” including “the removal of statues and memorials, and the renaming of buildings.”

“Using this standard, it would be hypocritical not to cancel the Democrat Party itself for the same reason,” Ingoglia said. “Some people want to have ‘uncomfortable conversations’ about certain subjects. Let’s have those conversations.”

Ingoglia noted that the Democratic Party had “adopted pro-slavery positions into their platforms” at its national conventions in 1840, 1844, 1856, 1860 and 1864.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Ingoglia, who previously was the chairman of the Florida GOP, had also indicated his bill was designed to target Democrats.

In a tweet at Nikki Fried, Florida’s former state agriculture commissioner, who was elected over the weekend as the new chair of the state Democratic Party, Ingoglia wrote that “Florida Dems should be thankful I’m not asking them to return all the money they’ve raised previously from their Jefferson/Jackson Dinners.”

The tweet was a reference to a name Democrats used for years as a label for annual fundraising dinners that were named to honor Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, who both owned slaves.

Many Democratic organizations have changed the names of the dinners in recent years.

Bessie Venters

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