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Surprising a number of folks, the DNC announced that Florida and Michigan's representatives to the standing Credentials Committee will be seated, regardless of whether their delegates are ultimately seated at the convention.
Why is this important? Because the Credentials Committee will be the one that ultimately decides whether the state delegations are seated at the convention, especially if the situation remains unresolved going all the way up to August. While each state will be barred from voting on the seating of their own delegates, they can vote on each other's, creating some interesting opportunities for horse-trading votes.
Marc Ambinder over at The Atlantic agrees with the DNC, stating that any sanctions that affect a state's membership on the standing committee's is a separate sanction that has to be adopted independently, and this was not done for either Florida or Michigan.
The article at Politico quotes a number of folks as being confused as to how MI and FL can be included in the standing committee if their delegates cannot be seated:
Allan Katz, the lone member of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee to vote against sanctioning Florida in August 2007, said the DNC’s current position “strikes me as odd.”
Katz, a Florida superdelegate who supports Obama, added that, “it doesn’t make any sense to presume that a full cadre of representatives from Florida and Michigan could serve on these committees absent there being a delegation.”
Katz, like all those interviewed, was also quick to offer the benefit of the doubt to DNC leadership. But, he said, “there is a lack of structural sense to this. I think people are confused.”
My own analysis of the Democratic Party's National Call to Convention also supports the DNC view.
Rule 7.A.1 and 3 states that:
Base: A base of 161 members, casting 158 votes, allocated to the states and territories in accordance with the same distribution formula used to allocateWhat may cause some difficulty is that the allocation of each state's delegation to the standing committees must match the results of that state's presidential preferences (Rule 7.C.1) . How this would work in Michigan, where Obama wasn't even on the ballot, is currently unknown.
delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
3. Delegate Status: Members of the standing committees need not be delegates or alternates to the Democratic National Convention.
According to the Politico article, neither Obama nor Clinton have a majority of votes on the Credentials Committee to sway it either way should a challenge reach them. It is believed that by including Florida and Michigan on the committee, it would benefit Clinton as the states will have the ability to press their state's case and vote on the other's status. Combined the two states have 14 votes (8 for Florida and 6 for Michigan - Appendix D of the Call to Convention).
Assuming that the issue still doesn't get resolved at the Credentials Committee, Clinton's last hope would be for a "Minority Report" from the Credentials Committee to be adopted and passed to the full convention delegates. When the proposal to adopt the Credentials Committee report is introduced, Clinton can hope that a majority of delegates vote to reject the report without Florida and Michigan added, forcing the Committee to re-convene and bring up a new proposal for adoption. The Convention would then be stuck until a final Credentials Report could be adopted (Rule 7.C.1). Only a 20% vote would be required to include a Minority Report to the full convention.
But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. For now, it increases the drama and pressure for a solution prior to the convention in August.
Update from Matt: The Michigan Primary is still dead:
A re-vote in Michigan is likely dead on arrival after Michigan Democratic Party leaders conceded "it is not practical to conduct" a primary or caucus re-vote. The Obama campaign has now called for a 50-50 split of the Michigan delegates. The Clinton campaign, however, says Michigan "votes cannot be ignored" and is circulating a petition to still count votes and delegates from Michigan and Florida