Gary Hart has spent the days since his reentry into the Democratic presidential race saying that he expects party officials to be obstacles to his candidacy. Charles Whitehead, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, said Friday that he planned to fight to keep Hart's name off the ballot for the state's March 8 presidential primary. "If I have anything to do with it, he's not going to be on the ballot," Whitehead told the St. Petersburg Times.
Whitehead said Hart's decision to reenter the race was "an absolute disgrace," and he complained that Hart put his own ego above everything. "I have lost all respect that I ever had for him," Whitehead said.
After Texas, Florida is the second-largest prize among the southern states holding primaries on "Super Tuesday." Hart won the 1984 Florida Democratic primary.
The central committee of each party has until Dec. 31 to submit names for the ballot. The Democrats have already submitted the names of the six other announced candidates.
A candidate left off the central committee list can be included on the ballot only by appealing to a bipartisan, seven-member presidential candidate selection committee, said Dave Adams, a spokesman for Florida's Secretary of State Jim Smith. Winning the appeal requires unanimous consent by all committee members of the candidate's party. Whitehead is a member of the candidate selection committee, which meets Jan. 5 to approve the names submitted by the parties.
Yesterday, however, Whitehead had a change of heart. To keep Hart off the ballot, he told CBS radio, "would be as unfair as I think he's been by getting back in the race."