Thursday, May 29, 2008

Michigan Democratic leaders ask for full seating of their delegates with 69/59 split

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Several Michigan Democratic leaders sent a letter to the chairs of the RBC last week requesting that the Michigan delegation be fully seated in August.
Here's the key section:

As a result, we recommended to the Michigan Democratic Party that the pledged delegates be apportioned 69 to Senator Clinton and 59 to Senator Obama. That approach splits the difference between the 73/55 position of the Clinton campaign and the 64/64 position of the Obama campaign. Our recommendation was based on our belief that both candidates have legitimate arguments about the Michigan primary.

This 69/59 approach was overwhelmingly adopted by the Executive Committee of the Michigan Democratic Party – which like the Rules and Bylaws Committee has members who are strong advocates for both candidates – as a position that can unify our party and put this issue behind us.

To that end, both of our presidential candidates have made clear that they want Michigan’s delegates to be seated without penalty.

You can see what the results would be in our Florida & Michigan by the numbers post.
And the letter in it's entirety:

May 22, 2008

Honorable Alexis Herman
Mr. James Roosevelt, Jr.
Co-Chairs, Rules and Bylaws Committee
Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Co-Chairs Herman and Roosevelt:

We are writing to urge the Rules and Bylaws Committee to support the request of the Michigan Democratic Party that the entire 157-member Michigan delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention be seated with full voting strength.

The members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee are familiar with the sequence of events that have brought us to the present situation.

As a result of the hard-fought deliberations and recommendations of the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling, in August of 2006 the Democratic National Committee adopted a new rule on sequencing presidential primaries and caucuses. Under this rule, the so-called pre-window states could each hold their presidential primary or caucus in January 2008, with the rest of the states following in February or later. The rule dictated that the pre-window states hold their primaries in a specific order — with New Hampshire coming third — and no earlier than designated dates between January 14 and 29.

While Michigan Democrats were disappointed that our state was not selected for one of the pre-window contests, we appreciated the new rule for adding a bit of much-needed diversity to the early nominating process, and as a first step toward breaking the Iowa-New Hampshire lock on the process. We notified the DNC that we would abide by the new calendar and its sequence provided that other states did the same. To be clear – the key issue which the new rule resolved was the sequence of the pre-window states, not just the number of pre-window states.

But at a press conference in Dover, New Hampshire last August 9, the New Hampshire Secretary of State indicated he was going to schedule his state’s primary before the date specified in the DNC rule, clearly defying the sequence and timing the Rules and Bylaws Committee had set. Michigan Democratic leaders wrote to Governor Dean asking if the DNC intended to enforce the rule against New Hampshire, but the DNC refused to act or even to answer our letters for months.

The Democratic National Committee then proceeded to selectively enforce its calendar rule. On December 3, the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to give New Hampshire a waiver to move from third to second place in the sequence. Michigan requested a waiver and was denied. When the Rules and Bylaws Committee itself decided not to follow its own newly adopted, hard-fought for rules and granted a waiver to New Hampshire, it set the stage for the present situation.

How do we move forward and put all of our energy into winning the White House in November? We all agree that winning Michigan is crucial to that goal.

At the request of the Governor of Michigan, the four of us have worked to find a solution for many months. We looked at a number of options to “redo” Michigan’s primary vote, including a privately-funded state-run primary; a party-run primary; and even a vote-by-mail primary. We had extensive discussions with the Clinton and Obama campaign organizations and with the DNC staff in the course of considering these options. Unfortunately, for differing reasons, none of the “redo” options came to pass.

So we developed the following settlement recommendation to the Michigan Democratic Party.

The Clinton campaign has taken the position that the results of Michigan’s January 15 primary should be honored and that Senator Clinton should receive 73 pledged delegates in accordance with the vote she received. The Obama campaign has taken the position that the January 15 primary results should be ignored and that Michigan’s 128 pledged delegates should be seated but evenly divided 64/64 between the two candidates.

Both candidates have a basis for their argument. The January 15 primary result was flawed because Senator Obama took his name off the ballot. He interpreted the DNC injunction and his pledge to New Hampshire that he would not campaign in Michigan to require him to take that affirmative step. As a result, we did not totally agree with the Clinton campaign’s position that the pledged delegates should be apportioned 73/55 (Clinton/Obama) in strict accordance with the outcome of the primary.

At the same time, we also did not accept the position of the Obama campaign that the primary should be totally ignored and the pledged delegates should be evenly apportioned 64/64 between the two candidates, given the fact that almost 600,000 Democrats voted in the January 15 primary, 55% of whom voted for Senator Clinton and 45% of whom voted for Uncommitted or other candidates.

As a result, we recommended to the Michigan Democratic Party that the pledged delegates be apportioned 69 to Senator Clinton and 59 to Senator Obama. That approach splits the difference between the 73/55 position of the Clinton campaign and the 64/64 position of the Obama campaign. Our recommendation was based on our belief that both candidates have legitimate arguments about the Michigan primary.

This 69/59 approach was overwhelmingly adopted by the Executive Committee of the Michigan Democratic Party – which like the Rules and Bylaws Committee has members who are strong advocates for both candidates – as a position that can unify our party and put this issue behind us.

To that end, both of our presidential candidates have made clear that they want Michigan’s delegates to be seated without penalty.

Senator Obama recently said, “If I am fortunate enough to be the Democratic nominee, I can guarantee you that the Michigan delegation will be seated and they’ll have a full voice at the convention.” Senator Clinton said just this week, “If we care about winning [Michigan and Florida] in November, we need to count your votes now. If Democrats send the message that we don’t fully value your votes, we know that Senator McCain and the Republicans will be more than happy to have them.”

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama understand that penalizing Michigan would needlessly and pointlessly wound their candidacy. If you vote to penalize Michigan, you will keep this issue alive, distracting from the real issues in the campaign. You would also be penalizing our candidates and our party, and ultimately our nation, because you would be weakening our nominee’s chances of winning Michigan, a state that is critical to our winning the White House in November.

We believe that the Michigan Democratic Party’s consensus proposal can unify our party and allow us to move forward. We urge the Rules and Bylaws Committee to adopt it. To penalize Michigan would legitimize the selective enforcement of our party rules, would fly in the face of the statements of both candidates, and would jeopardize our chances of carrying Michigan and winning the Presidency. For all of these reasons, we must insist on Michigan’s full delegation being seated at the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.

Sincerely,

Senator Carl Levin Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger DNC Member Debbie Dingell

cc: Members of the Rules and ByLaws Committee
Governor Howard Dean
Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator Barack Obama

The big question is will the RBC be willing to fully seat Michigan? DNC lawyers told the RBC that they can't seat more than half of each delegation?

30 comments:

Les said...

"New Hampshire moved from third to second" - yeah, upstaging Florida, who had already "cut in line". New Hampshire was supposed to be second according to the rules. That they moved up their schedule to compensate for someone else's ignoring of the rules has nothing to do with it - no...

C'mon, Michigan - you've wanted to move up your primary for years. Just admit you're going to get punished for it and move on.

Amot said...

Very insolent letter! If I was member of RBC I would penalize them even more for this behavior! They balme DNC for their own foolishness and pretend to be eligible to break the rules unpunished...

3investors said...

If Florigan were my 2 children, I'd keep them punished as previously stated, BUT, we've got voters to pander to.

Given that even in Hilldog's best case scenario, she'll have to win out 66-34 or better of all delegates and all supers (not factoring in Pelosi SD group)...

WHY DON'T THE DEMOCRATS GIVE Florigan 100% delegate seating since the Republicans gave them half. It won't change that outcome but would be a huge coup with the voters?

3investors said...

Since any compromise will be going back on the rules giving them egg on their face anyway. It will also give HRC and WJC less to complain about and ease any other tension around the country with other voters who think they may have been cheated.

Then Obama gets a female VP of good character and wins the general, no disrespect to McCain.

Les said...

3investors: um, no.

If the RBC fully re-instates FL and/or MI, then they are in effect endorsing states who ignore the party rules. There must be some penalty or they lose control of their own organization.

SHAYLA said...

I never comment, but this letter is the dummest thing I think I've heard to date. Since MI was not given permission to move their primary, they did it anyway. I tell you what, if my child asked me if she could go to a friends house, was told "no" and then decided to go anyway, she would be punished severely. Especially if her excuse was this lame. This letter is proof that MI never intended to obey the rules. In fact, MI flipped off the DNC vehemently and did just what they wanted. What arrogance.... I am so through with this debacle.

And why, oh why, won't 50 SD take a stand, endorse Obama and get this over with already?

3investors said...

Well les, we totally agree with you... Except the problem is this: they ALREADY failed to assert their authority!

The RBC and DNC should have had an emergency meeting back in January to settle the issue (again) and let the 3 candidates, HRC, Obama, and Edwards sign it then and there to end they issue.

They did not. Nobody has respected their authority this time either even if they accept the RBC opinion, and HRC will use the 5/31 decision as a rallying cry for the next 8 years!

Not even WJC wants that except for the book deal he'll get out of it.

ken said...

Seat the pledged delegates 69-59 as requested and punish the delegation by stripping the superdelegates of their votes. Then no one can complain about the voters being disenfranchised and it punishes the state party leaders responsible for the debacle

Aaron said...

What Ken Said

Brian said...

Ken's comment is the most reasonable idea I've heard in regards to Michigan, and it frustrates me that that concept hasn't gotten wider distribution. It wasn't necessarily the voters' faults that the voting dates got changed, it was the party leaders. Consequently, it should be the party leaders that get punished by losing their Super-status. Although legally the RBC can only seat up to half the delegation, so we'll see how everything shakes out.
And I agree with 3investors that they should've settled this way earlier. Any logical person can see the Hillary is only pushing this issue because it gives her dying campaign a few more breaths. Anyone who thinks this is a gender or enfranchisement issue is kidding themselves.

The Numantine said...

Sanctioning the superdelegates is a good idea. Unfortunately, the Charter of the Democratic Party gives these individuals seats at the Convention and the Rules and Bylaws Committee doesn't have the authority to strip them of their seats. At best the RBC could strip MI & FL of their add-on delegates as these are selected by rule rather than charter.

It is doubtful that the compromise 69/59 split could be seated fully. Any compromise that takes into consideration the unauthorized primary would be automatically sanctioned at 50%. To seat a full delegation, some other metric would need to be considered. It is hard to see how anything other than a 50-50 split could seated without the automatic sanction.

KCinDC said...

Les, I think the bit about NH being third referred to the original schedule, in which the NV caucus was supposed to come between IA and NH. NH would the third contest but still the first primary.

Moving NV and SC into the early period was the new schedule that the Rules and Bylaws Committee approved as a small step toward allowing some states other than IA and NH to be special. MI had been considered as a possible early state, but the committee chose NV and SC, so MI decided they were more important than those other states and violated the rules.

jeff said...

I agree with Ken. You have to strip the state of something else you're pretty much telling any future state that it's OK to do this and not have any consequences. I think 69/59 is a fair settlement.

Greg said...

The lawyers for the RBC made a pretty good case that the delegation cannot be reinstated at 100% because the 50% reduction is mandated by the rules and become effective automatically on a finding of violation without any further action by anyone.

The credentials committee of the convention, by contrast, can do what it wants. The RBC, not so much.

Rick said...

Give them the 69/59 split, but only give them 1/2 a vote. That way they are punished, their compromise can be accepted and it won't have to go to the convention floor for acceptance.

Richard said...

69/59 sounds fair enough for the pledged delegates, but they should be fully striped of any super-delegates. No point in rewarding the party leaders that screwed it up to begin with.

B4real said...

Who do Hillary and Bill Clinton think they are? The Democratic Party is made up of more people than them. And presently they don't think or act for me. First in her own words "they know that this election won't count for anything" and now she wants the delegates seated in her favor alone. Next she wants to exclude the caucuses which will essentially disenfranchise those voters (oh yeah, she lost those). And now she does not want to have any delegates granted to Barack Obama. At last count, Bill are just two individuals breathing air among a poulation of 56+ million people. She has lost the popular vote, the pledged delegate count, and the superdelegate count. I am sure that the supers have not moved to put an end to it because they don't want to hear the whining coming from the Clinton camp and the temper tantrum.

Paul Bradford said...

The most important concern shouldn't be pandering to Florida and Michigan party leaders in the hope of winning those states in November (the party leaders care about the issue far more than the voters do), the most important concern is to have a reasonable nominating process in 2012 (or the next year the Democrats have a contested nomination).

It's impossible to have a reasonable system if the states are unreasonably defying party rules. The states who followed the rules should have delegates, the states that didn't follow the rules should wait 'til next time (when, presumably, they WILL follow the rules)

Actually, though, I think MI has a point about NH. They're being whining babies, but they have a point. The Democratic party has no will to stand up to NH (or IA) and allow some other state the chance to be first for a change. New Hampshire primacy is not written into the Bill of Rights!

Reasonableness calls for a rotating system of primacy -- and we ought to have 6% of the delegates chosen every week out of a 17 week nominating season. This year 66% of the pledged delegates were selected over a fifteen day period. None of the states involved got much of the candidates' attention -- and the candidates were denied the chance to take their case to the voters.

I want the party to show some political will so they can sort this mess out.

m said...

"both of our presidential candidates have made clear that they want Michigan’s delegates to be seated without penalty"
-----
It doesn't really clarify what they intend to do with "uncommitted" in their final opinion. Or did I just read it incorrectly?

Would love clarification.

Amot said...

There is something I find interesting in the lawyers' position. They wrote that timing violation panalty must be imposed since there was a time violating primary. But they don't connect that penalty with the allocation of delegates. I mean, if you read it carefully, it looks like the penalty is applied not on the results, but on the state delegation as a whole.
If that was true even revote results should be penalized and used to seat the delegation in half at most. I think it make sense to punish a state violating the rules for creating mess, but that should not be 50% in case of revote or allocation ignoring the results of that contest. IMHO 50% penalty must be automatic only on the number of delegates allocated according the Jan primary.

MI has an option - to use the Jan results or to use no results at all. Unfortunately for them allocation of delegates can not be made based on polls or State Committee decision or anything else but primary/caucus results. So they are stuck with the penalized results if the want something different than 50-50 allocation.

MI results now are 73 Clinton, 55 uncommitted. As a compromise a complex formula will be proposed, probably based half on Jan results and half on equal split. 69/59 proposal is a possible outcome. But regarding to lawyers opinion this should be halved. If they halve the votes - 1/2 vote per delegate, it is ok. But if they halve the number of delegates, which according to the lawyers is the more legal option, we have a problem. In that case one could argue that the portion of delegates allocated via equal split should not be penalized, and the delegation has to be seated at 75% - 25% coming from the Jan results, and 50% from equal split. So one more possible outcome is 18+32=50 Clinton and 14+32=46 Obama.

Mike in Maryland said...

SHAYLA said...
if my child asked me if she could go to a friends house, was told "no" and then decided to go anyway, she would be punished severely.

Shayla,

If your daughter asked you to go somewhere at a certain time, and you said "No", but told her to come back with a different time, one that fell within a certain, later, time period; your child came back and said "I'm going there at the time I wanted to go"; you again told her to decide on a later time; and then she went at the time she originally wanted to go, I'm sure you would be even more angry.

This is what happened with Michigan and Florda. The DNC agreed on the rules and dates for the nomination process by the end of June, 2006, and set a deadline for states to submit plans for the primary or caucus in that jurisdiction. Michigan and Florida submitted plans that were outside the window. The DNC rejected the plans, and told them to have another go, this time with their primary, caucus, or other process on a date within the window.

Again the two states submitted plans outside the window, and then the DNC imposed the penalty.

I'm sure Michigan and Florida didn't think the DNC would enforce such a rule. But they gambled, argued, gambled again, and then lost when the DNC told them their plans were outside the rules. I feel they deserve a penalty of somewhere between 50% and 100%, no matter how many delegates are allowed to attend, and no matter if each delegate gets a full or half vote.

I find it somewhat ironic that Michigan thinks they can get away with cheating in more than just politics. The University of Michigan basketball team is still paying penalties for recruiting 'The Fab Five' in the late 1980s. It wasn't so much the recruiting itself, but the payments that were made by the boosters to the team members that were found out years later when the penalties were assessed, and thus has diminished the 'glamor' of the Wolverine basketball program for years after.

Mike

Les said...

See this Post article for a rundown of the primary shuffle.

New Hampshire did not move its primary until South Carolina jumped their date up. South Carolina, in turn, was only defending its newfound spot by jumping up in response to Florida.

Michigan decided to take advantage of the situation and moved their primary up at that point.

I stand by my original post, with this additional clarification.

mcurtis5000 said...

A party with the name of Democratic is redifining the term "democratic" as well as "republican." If you have a national party, or claim to be "national" then it should behoove itself it act like it. Excluding the votes of two states whose *people* *chose* to have their primary early is really none of your concern. These votes and delegates should be counted completely. It is enough that your party has the hypocrisy of super-delegates for the obvious reason of self-protection from the will of the party's voters. It facinates me that the pary thinks the public is stupid enough to not know or possibly care that those who were labeled anti-federalists predicted that factions would seek to entrench themselves and your party has gone to great lengths to prove them correct. No campaign needs to be hindered by a national party of massive arrogance. I found this to be true as far back as 1984 when I won my precinct over Walter Mondale for Gary Hart, it was a hard fight against the union money in my area but I won it with ethics. Ironically Gary Hart would shatter those ethics the next time he ran. Your committee needs to over-come these ethical problems or you will find yourselves no better than the Republicans. It was the Republicans who showed themselves to be arrogant idiots ignoring the votes of the people. Now the DNC is showing the same colors. It is really time to look in the mirror and consider what you see looking back.

I'm not certain that either people needs my vote. Convince me.

jeff said...

Clinton attorneys are continuing to push for ZERO delegates for Obama in Michigan and will reportedly use Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard to make their case.

They will not accept any resolution that awards Obama any delegates.

The woman will stop at nothing.

I understand that it would appear abnormal to allocate "uncommitted" delegates to any candidate. But for all the preaching of disenfranchisement and fairness from camp Clinton, I would like to understand from them how they justify this position to the many voters in their state who would like to support Sen. Obama.

Les said...

mccurtis, this is also a country of laws (and rules), and we must be true to the will of the voters in the other 55 states, provinces, and districts who abided by those rules and expected everyone else to do so also.

This has not, unfortunately, happened in a vacuum, nor did it happen without the foreknowledge of many of the voters in MI and FL. Neither did it happen without the consent of all of the Presidential campaigns, nor the near-unanimous vote of the DNC RBC (including the votes of those states who violated the rules).

In the end, I believe FL and MI will be seated - somehow, and with some penalty. The best possible solution I think would be to send all delegates with only half-votes, so as to keep the delegates happy.

If we are to reform the system, we must do it with respect for the rules; the addition of NV and SC to the early contest list this year was an attempt to begin this reform. It came close to failing, as will any future attempt unless we can control the process.

Paul Bradford said...

I think it should be kept in mind that the Democratic party has already done a good job of punishing MI and FL by getting the candidates not to campaign in the run-up to their primaries. The results of IA, NH, NV and SC were taken very seriously at the time -- but the results in MI and FL were presented by the press and others as immaterial.

It was very different on the Republican side. I think people should be upset that the Republicans were lenient with MI and FL rather than being upset that the Democrats were strict. The Republican primaries in MI and FL made a huge difference in the way their nominating contests turned out. When Romney won MI it kept his campaign alive -- when Giuliani lost FL it forced him to drop out -- which gave McCain the chance to win big on super-Tuesday and clinch the nomination early.

Imagine if Democratic candidates had taken FL and MI as seriously as the Republican candidates did. The winner of those primaries would have come into Super-Tuesday with an enormous amount of momemtum and would have delivered the knockout punch early. Then the Democratic primaries and caucuses in WA, LA, VA, MD, WI, OH, TX, PA, IN, NC, WV, KY and OR (as well as others) would have been as meaningless as the Republican contests were in those states. By supposedly 'disenfranchising' FL and MI, the Democrats allowed millions of voters around the country to have votes that mattered.

Republicans in FL and MI got the sweet deal because their party was lenient. Republicans in other states got the shaft. The Democratic party rewarded states for following the rules -- they shouldn't go back on the punishments that proved to be so effective.

mcurtis said...

Thanks to Jeff, et al, but democracy is not about punishing. Also, I know of no national law that suggests the solidification of certain laws via political parties. None of you have even attempted to address my points. I challenge Mr. Dean to do so since you guys seem so inept.

Try to see this as a political and historical challenge. Stop being party blind and think about what I said. I'll repeat:

A party with the name of Democratic is redifining the term "democratic" as well as "republican." If you have a national party, or claim to be "national" then it should behoove itself it act like it. Excluding the votes of two states whose *people* *chose* to have their primary early is really none of your concern. These votes and delegates should be counted completely. It is enough that your party has the hypocrisy of super-delegates for the obvious reason of self-protection from the will of the party's voters. It facinates me that the pary thinks the public is stupid enough to not know or possibly care that those who were labeled anti-federalists predicted that factions would seek to entrench themselves and your party has gone to great lengths to prove them correct. No campaign needs to be hindered by a national party of massive arrogance. I found this to be true as far back as 1984 when I won my precinct over Walter Mondale for Gary Hart, it was a hard fight against the union money in my area but I won it with ethics. Ironically Gary Hart would shatter those ethics the next time he ran. Your committee needs to over-come these ethical problems or you will find yourselves no better than the Republicans. It was the Republicans who showed themselves to be arrogant idiots ignoring the votes of the people. Now the DNC is showing the same colors. It is really time to look in the mirror and consider what you see looking back.

I'm not certain that either people needs my vote. Convince me.

See the part that says to convince me?

Good luck.

Mike Curtis

tmess2 said...

Mr. Curtis, the problem in your analysis is that it begins at the wrong point. The Democratic Party is a private organization that sets up its own rules for its internal government. While there were elections in Florida and Michigan, those elections were not part of the process by which the Democratic Party governs itself.

Those two states are not unique in that regards as four other states also hold elections which are not part of the Democratic nomination process (Nebraska, Washington, Idaho, and New Mexico). The difference between those four states and Michigan and Florida is that the Democrats in those states held separate elections as part of the Democratic Party's nomination process. The Democrats in Florida and Michigan refused to do so.

It is not about punishing. It's about holding a valid party election (as opposed to a valid state election).

You should also note that there are several provisions of the rules governing the nomination process that give incentives to states to move to a later date and "penalties" to states that move forward. These rules are part of the Democratic Party's attempt to have a rational and coherent process which allows all 50 states (and the territories) to participate.

mcurtis said...

I'm confused. Some of your co-horts claim this is a country of laws and not of men. You refuyse to address my point that the party is a national party that has entrenshed itself into the fabric of our political system and protected itself with "private" bylaws but expects to speak for and represent the "people" of the United States for high public office. Now if this is a "private" organization it should be subject to national laws if it wants to represent all the people. We have massively lost our way as a party into what very much looks like the hated "Federalist" party. You may be blind to this, but there are voters out there who don't give a darn about your protecting your private club. Get it?

Mike Curtis

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Mike Curtis