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Friday, May 30, 2008

Fixing Florida and Michigan

(Editor's note: With the much anticipated Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting tomorrow afternoon, this would be a good time to re-run part of my March 7 article on the Florida and Michigan dilemma. In the last three months, no arguments have changed, despite the networks still claiming that Hillary Clinton's change of the metrics is news. Look for Clinton to get about a 60-40 split of halved delegates from the two felonious states, which will actually make a Clinton comeback less likely, as the percentage of pledged delegates and superdelegates that she'll need to win for the balance of the process will increase. Also, prepare for the famous 2,025 delegates majority mark to be pushed back to close to 2,200, though Obama will still be in position to clear that majority with the conclusion of the primary process. Long story short: Obama is the nominee within a few days of the June 3rd primaries.)

So Florida and Michigan want their votes counted. What a shock. They are upset that their influence has been stripped, but they seem confused as to whom they should focus their ire. It is not Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee's fault. Florida and Michigan have only one place to point their finger, and that is at their own state parties.

Both parties of both states were forbidden to push their primary in front of February 5th. If they proceeded, sanctions would be imposed. The motivations behind the national committees imposing such strict laws were clear and simple. If any state was allowed to push up their primary in order to gain more influence in the primary process, then eventually all states would leapfrog each other until the primary season began months earlier than usual. Order and civility were necessary and penalizing rule-breakers was the only way to maintain them.

So, Florida and Michigan were warned, but their state parties insisted on pushing up their primaries to January. The Republican National Committee penalized the two states half of their delegates to the Republican Convention. The DNC stripped all of the Florida and Michigan delegates from the Democratic Convention.

The Republican candidates continued to campaign in the states, as even half of Michigan and Florida's delegates were still greater than smaller states at full value. The Democratic candidates, however, were instructed not to campaign in the penalized states. Some even went as far as to take their names off the ballot in Michigan (though Hillary Clinton did not do so). Mike Gravel was the only candidate to campaign in Florida, while Dennis Kucinich was the only one to campaign on Michigan.

Thus Michigan and Florida were ignored by Democrats, a long-term implication addressed in yesterday's post. As promised, their delegates were stripped. And now the governors of the two states, Republican Charlie Crist of Florida and Democrat Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, are predictably demanding that their delegates be seated. It is important to note that they did not fight the move into January. In fact, they championed the idea. The two governors are partly responsible for their states' predicaments.

Yet, once the promised consequences were delivered, they complained about the consequences. Simply, they called a bluff and lost and then complained about it.

But did they lose? Now, it seems, it behooves the Democratic National Committee to somehow count votes from the two states, so as to not alienate the Michigan and Florida voters. Since counting the unsanctioned January primaries is out of the question, despite Hillary Clinton's pleas, there is a chance that the states will revote either in primary or caucus form. If they do this, they would have more influence on the election than they possibly could have dreamed of when they moved up. Ironically, in this election, it is now the later primaries that are holding the most influence of all, and Florida and Michigan are going to get the best of both worlds.

All for breaking the rules.
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