Thursday, January 17, 2008

Want to be an Uncommitted Michigan delegate?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

So here's the question: how exactly do you pick an "Uncommitted" delegate? The Detroit News tries to figure it out:

Four in 10 voters in Tuesday's Michigan Democratic primary cast their ballots for nameless, faceless "uncommitted," which is undoubtedly unprecedented. So how many state party delegates will go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer with an uncommitted tag -- and what will become of them once they get there?

Michiganians familiar with the mess that was the Democratic primary won't be surprised to learn the answer: Nobody is quite sure. "This is by far our largest uncommitted vote," said Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. "I can't remember the last time we sent uncommitted delegates to a national convention based on a primary. We're in uncharted territory.

"We have party rules on this but it'll take a few weeks to figure it all out." It's no wonder. The party's delegation selection plan is 40 pages long. Here's the deal: New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, the only leading Democratic candidate on Tuesday's ballot, won 55 percent of the vote. Uncommitted finished second at 40 percent.
Technically, uncommitted delegates are not bound to any candidate. But in a practical sense, in order to be elected delegates at the state party's March 29 powwow, they'll likely have to promise to support one candidate or another, Brewer said.

How all this breaks out largely depends on which candidates are still in the running in late March, and how they're doing. The delegate selection process becomes more important if no clear leader has emerged and there's a possibility of a "brokered convention," meaning the nominee would actually be chosen at the convention and not known beforehand.

Of course, all this assumes Michigan's delegation will be seated at the convention. That's not a slam dunk. As it stands, the national party has stripped Michigan of its delegate votes because it broke party rules with the early primary date. But state party leaders are convinced the Michigan delegates ultimately will take their chairs on the floor.

Don't know if they'll be seated, but we'll keep you up-to-date no matter what happens.