February 9, 2008


Sanctioned States Put Democrats in Quandary (Dan Balz, 2/09/08, Washington Post)

"The Florida and Michigan situation is untenable in its current form and unacceptable to go into a nominating convention [where Clinton and Obama] could be separated by the number of delegates in those states," said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist and veteran of presidential delegate wars. "If you go into the convention with that kind of cloud hanging over your head, it's a very dangerous situation."

Under the original allocations, Florida was to have 210 delegates and Michigan 156, making Florida's the third-largest delegation to the convention and Michigan's the fifth-largest. The Democrats might have done what the Republicans did to states that violated the rules, which was to cut their delegations in half. Instead, the DNC took the nuclear option. Now everyone is left to clean up the mess.

One solution is for the two states to organize caucuses for this spring, perhaps in May. But the cost and complexity of running caucuses in states as large as Florida and Michigan make this more difficult than it sounds.

When the DNC was still trying to decide what to do about Florida's decision to move up its primary, there was talk of setting up 150 caucus sites. That compares with the almost 2,000 sites that Iowa had, and ignores the reality that Iowa has a long history of running caucuses and Florida does not.

There is talk among Michigan Democrats now about trying to set up caucuses, but nothing official has happened. Before anything could take place, the states would have to submit plans to the DNC and have them accepted. So far, there's no movement. Meanwhile there is growing ill will between supporters of Obama and Clinton in Florida and the potential for that to get worse.

Short of scheduling sanctioned events, this will have to be resolved by DNC Chairman Howard Dean and the two presidential campaigns. But the campaigns are already dug in, if the rhetoric about Florida is any guide. Clinton has called for seating the state's delegation, and under the results of the beauty-contest primary there, she would be awarded 105 delegates to Obama's 67, with the rest going to Edwards.

Devine believes that Clinton and Obama should look to resolve the issue through the DNC long before they go to Denver. The challenge will be finding a solution that does not trample on the voters but that also takes into consideration that the candidates did not truly compete in those states. Devine said what's needed is "a mechanism that takes account of what has happened but doesn't unfairly penalize Senator Obama for not fully participating."

So a fair mechanism that benefits Mr. Obama?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 9, 2008 5:55 PM
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