Florida Republican pitches bill to ban the state Democratic Party

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

“The Ultimate Cancel Act,” filed on 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 S.B. 1248, would require Florida officials to notify all registered voters who belong to any canceled parties that their party no longer exists. It would also change their voter registration to “no party affiliation” and “provide procedures” for those voters to update their affiliation to “an active political party.”

The bill would allow any canceled political parties to re-register with the Florida Department of State — 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-1800’s, supported slavery. Southern Democrats in particular supported protecting slavery in the U.S. and opposed civil rights reforms for decades following the Civil War. The party, of course, 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. 

Florida Democrats said the intent 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 to NBC News.

Florida Republicans hold a supermajority in the state Legislature. Its legislative sessions kick off March 7.

Ingoglia’s office did not respond to questions from NBC News. However, in a series of tweets, the state senator, who previously worked as the chairman of the Florida GOP, indicated his bill was designed to target Democrats.

In a tweet Tuesday at Nikki Fried, Florida’s former state agriculture commissioner who was elected over the weekend as the new chair of the Florida 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 in reference to a name that Democrats had for years used as a label for annual fundraising dinners that were named to honor former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, who both owned slaves.

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

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