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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ruling Issued on Michigan and Florida Delegates

George Wenschhof

The Democratic National Committee and it's rules and bylaws committee took center stage today as they held a public meeting on the disposition of the 366 total delegates from Michigan and Florida. The most poignant question asked today was "How do you fairly allocate delegates from a flawed primary?".

As someone rightfully said, the meeting and deliberations resembled the making of sausage. Although hardly pretty, the DNC is hopeful the decisions today aid in uniting democrats. Remember, these states were stripped of their delegates due to the moving of their primaries to an earlier unsanctioned date in the primary schedule. All of the democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in these two states and Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan.

As of 6:00 PM ET the current total delegate count is Obama 1983 and Clinton 1782 with 2026 needed for the nomination. Without Florida and Michigan, there remains 86 available pledged delegates in the remaining primaries and 137 uncommitted superdelgates with Obama only needing 43 delegates to win the nomination and holding a 201 delegate lead over Clinton. With the decisions indicated below, the new number needed to win the nomination is 2118 and Obama is within approximately 65 delegates of that number.

In Florida, the January 15, 2008 primary vote was Clinton 50% and Obama 33%. The ruling on Florida (185 pledged, 25 super) delegates is as follows: To seat all the delegates with one-half vote. Clinton - 52.5, Obama - 33.5, and Edwards - 6.5 delegates, a 19 delegate gain by Clinton. However, Edwards endorsed Obama so if Edwards delegates go to Obama, that could cut it down to a 12.5 gain by Clinton.

In Michigan, the January 29, 2008 primary vote was Clinton 55% and Uncommitted 40%. The ruling on Michigan (128 pledged, 28 super) delegates is as follows: To restore all delegates with one-half vote, Clinton 69 to receive 34.5 and Obama 59 to receive 29.5, a gain of 5 delegates by Clinton.

When the totals from these two states are reviewed as a result of the action taken today, it is unlikely Clinton will gain more than 20 delegates on Obama.

The all day meeting began around 9:30 AM ET and continued until 3:00 PM ET as arguments were presented by all sides. They then took a long break and reconvened around 6:15 PM after the successful launch of the space shuttle Discovery. In addition to the scientific equipment on board, the shuttle also had an important replacement part for the only toilet which is malfunctioning on board the space station. The long break by committee members was certainly not all spent on consuming a late lunch - wheeling and dealing and private discussions are sure to have transpired as the members worked to reach a consensus.

When they reconvened, they entertained motions, discussion and then moved to a vote in front of at times, a very loud and unruly crowd. Alice Huffman, a Clinton supporter made a motion to fully seat the Florida delegation with delegates having a full vote. 12 voted in favor and 15 opposed - motion failed. Ralph Dawson then made a motion to restore all the delegates with 1/2 vote with the vote total recognized as Clinton 52.5, Edwards 6.5, and Obama 33.5. This motion passed unanimously.

A motion was offered to seat all Michigan delegates with one-half vote. Clinton at 69 pledged delegates - 34.5 votes and Obama 59 pledged delegates - 29.5 votes, all unpledged delegates to receive .5 vote. Ickes, a Clinton supporter gave a emotional speech against this and said it did not show party unity-He then said Clinton has instructed him to reserve her right to take it to the credentials committee. Of course Ickes's position was that Obama receive no delegates since he was not on the ballot which is hardly fair. The threat of the appeal to the credentials committee did not go over well. The motion carried 19-8.

Florida consensus seemed to build early and Michigan questions continued throughout the day with Senator Carl Levin (Mich.) and some Clinton supporters mentioning the "credentials committee". An appeal to the DNC credentials committee would extend the final decision to the first day of the democratic national convention in Denver. The ruling of the credentials committee requires a ratifying vote from the convention delegates so an appeal would prolong the primary process to August.

It is obvious the Democrats will need to revise the current primary process as it was evident from Senator Levin's comments that they were still concerned with the first in the nation status given to Iowa and New Hampshire. While they are at it, a full review of the entire democratic primary process should begin following the general election. Caucuses versus primaries, pledged and superdelegates, proportional allocation of delegates based on total vote and by congressional district, the primary calendar, along with allowable penalties the DNC can impose, all need to be reviewed and revised prior to the 2012 election.

Another obvious maneuvering by the Clinton campaign was to include the full popular vote in their attempt to show Clinton won the overall popular vote. However, as is the case in the general election, it is not the popular vote that wins the election. So Clinton has to be using this argument to fortify her position as the best running mate for Obama and the democrats.

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