Friday, April 04, 2008

In surprise move, DNC says MI and FL will be seated on standing committees

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

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.

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.”

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.

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 allocate
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.
What 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.

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


Mr Super said...

This is an accurate ruling and the real story here is that both campaigns were surprised by this news. Campaign veterans who have attended conventions in the past should be well aware of the notion that members of standing committees are not delegates, and as such should are not subject to the same sanctions as delegates. It is a completely separate category. Having served as a standing committee member to one convention, and as a delegate to another, I've been through the process on both sides. You would think that the people advising these campaigns would also be apprised of such info. Which leads me to link you all to a famous article...

Brian Watkins said...

If the committee members are supposed to reflect the state's presidential nominee preference and the states have not held nominating contests, how are they supposed to be allocated?

Perhaps they could commission a statewide poll.

Usually there would be a plan to appoint them, but these states don't have valid delegate selection plans, so they have no means of selecting actual people to be committee members (or delegates).

Probably the DNCC or DNC R&BC or the committees themselves are the judges of qualifications of their own membership, so we should expect a contest among those committees over credentials soon.

Odeneho said...

In my opinion the superdelegates are hurting the party. I think they were given the power to be used "for such a time as this". The Clintons have lost a lot of admirers by the way the have conducted themselves during this primaries; they are aware but don't care. Only one thing is more important to them: get the NOMINATION no matter how much it

The single question the uncommitted "supers" have to answer is why did Hillary agreed with the DNC regarding Mi and FL initially and has now changed her position? If you let Clintons and their supporters dedicate when the rules should be changed the Democratic party will be in opposition for another 8years. She should know that none of the candidates can win in November with their followers alone - we need the whole party to be behind one candidate to kick the GOP and their failed policies out of the White House. The Clintons and their supporters are ruining the chances of Obama so he does not win and Hillary comes back in 2012 - well she may win the nomination but not the presidency because by that time everybody will be very much aware of what they stand for: divide and rule. If she is the stronger candidate to beat McCann why is she not leading the race; with all the contacts and resource at their side. Anybody who can make them look this desperate can beat McCann. They played dirty game and lost: full stop.

Obama started this race with few or no loyalists but have done this well - DNC should stand behind the stronger candidates who has demonstrated maturity in the face of all Clintons and GOP attacks.

Bill Richardson, having been with them got it right when he said the people around the Clintons believe they have some right to the presidency. The GOP has not forgiven the Clintons for handing them a nation full of home grown terrorists. Don't forget Bill CLinton was in charge when the two embassies were bombed in East Africa and 9months after he left office Bin Linda's organisation had developed roots in the country - who do you think the GOP blame for this? Hillary should not take credit of the good things during her husbands time in office and then wash her hands when the dirty stuffs surface.