How would the Florida and Michigan delegates actually be seated?

Note: As I was finishing writing this, AndreWalker08 wrote an excellent diary on this same subject. But since we approached the topic with different focuses, please read his post and this post to get a fuller picture. - Matt

With all the controversy surrounding the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations at the Democratic Convention, it's worth taking a look at how the process would actually work.

First, what rule did Florida and Michigan break? Section 11A of the Delegate Selection Rules of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

No meetings, caucuses, conventions or primaries which constitute the first determining stage in the presidential nomination process (the date of the primary in primary states, and the date of the first tier caucus in caucus states) may be held prior to the first Tuesday in February or after the second Tuesday in June in the calendar year of the national convention. [Except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina].
On Aug 26, 2007, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee stripped Florida (and later Michigan), of all its delegates:
Donna Brazile, a member of the rules committee who argued for a swift and harsh punishment for Florida, said states' desire to be more relevant in the nominating process does not excuse violations of rules intended to make the system fair for everyone.

"I understand how states crave to be first. I understand that they're envious of the role that Iowa and New Hampshiree have traditionally played," said Brazile, who was Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000. "The truth is, we had a process. . . . We're going to back these rules.

Now the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention ("the Call") states in section II-(B):
Only delegates and alternates selected under a delegate selection procedure approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and in accordance with the rules shall be placed on the Temporary Roll of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
So Michigan and Florida will not be placed on the Temporary Roll. And then it's in the hands of the 2008 Democratic Convention Credentials Committee. From The Call, section VII-(J)(1,2,3):
The Credentials Committee shall determine and resolve questions concerning the seating of delegates and alternates to the Convention pursuant to the resolution entitled the "Relationship Between the 2008 Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee and the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules," which includes the "Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee of the 2008 Democratic National Convention" hereby approved and adopted by the Democratic National Committee, and set forth in full in the Appendix to this Call. The committee shall report to the Convention for final determination and resolution of all such questions.

Challenges to the seating of any delegate or alternate shall be in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee. Any challenge to the seating of a delegate or alternate that is not made in conformity with these rules shall be deemed waived.

Upon the request of members representing twenty percent (20%) of the total votes of the Credentials Committee, a minority report shall be prepared for distribution to the Convention delegates and alternates as part of the committee's report.

And here's where we diverge if the seating is contested or not. If it's not contested, someone will challenge the non-seating of the delegates, the Credentials Committee will likely unanimously approve the challenge, the Committee will recommend in its main report that the delegates should be seated, the convention will approve the seating, and the Michigan and Florida delegates will march onto the floor with great ceremony.

But if the seating is contested, a Minority Report supporting the seating of the two delegations will be issued by the Credentials Committee.

And then we get to the convention. The report of the Credentials Committee is the very first piece of real business to occur at the convention. The Call, VIII-(C)(1)(a,b):

a. The Temporary Chair shall recognize the Chair of the Credentials Committee for up to thirty (30) minutes to present the committee's report unless a longer period of time shall be provided in a special order of business agreed upon by the Convention. The Chair of the committee may present committee amendments, yield part of his or her time to others and may yield for the presentation and disposition of minority reports without losing the right to the floor.

b. The Temporary Chair shall arrange for the orderly presentation of amendments and of minority reports offered at the direction of the committee. Twenty (20) minutes shall be allowed for the presentation of each committee amendment or minority report unless a longer period for any committee amendment or minority report is provided in special orders of business agreed to by the Convention. Time shall be allotted equally to proponents and opponents of each committee amendment or minority report. The questions shall be put on each committee amendment or minority report immediately following its presentation without intervening motion.

And we have a vote, state-by-state, the first meaningful state-by-state roll call at a Democratic Convention since 1980. Clinton would need a majority of the delegates (not including Florida and Michigan) to approve the Minority Report.

And then reality strikes. If Clinton can get a majority of delegates to support the Minority Report, than she has a majority of the delegates supporting her anyway, and she doesn't need Michigan and Florida.

But if she doesn't have a majority of the delegates supporting her, its hard to see why delegates supporting other candidates would vote to seat the two delegations, essentially helping her out. After fighting for the nomination for 2 years, why would Obama or Edwards and their delegates give up the fight in this way. It's just not going to happen. The delegations will NOT be seated if the nomination is contested.

Cross-posted at 2008 Democratic Convention Watch

Tags: delegates (all tags)

Comments

45 Comments

Thanks for the linkage...

...I think it's safe to say that this year's Democratic National Convention may count.

by Andre Walker 2008-01-27 02:27PM | 0 recs
Yeah

Thank you for bringing some sense and reality here. This was always pretty obvious. Michigan and Florida will only count if the delegates from these states don't matter in deciding the nominee. If it's too close, then once the nominee is selected, they will get seated.

by Progressive America 2008-01-27 02:28PM | 0 recs
You might want to read my diary...

...For a more accurate picture of what may or may not happen.

by Andre Walker 2008-01-27 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

And then reality strikes. If Clinton can get a majority of delegates to support the Minority Report, than she has a majority of the delegates supporting her anyway, and she doesn't need Michigan and Florida.

Maybe, but there may be an alternative. In that scenario, Clinton has a plurality of the delegates, but not enough to be the majority-- something entirely possible if there are superdelegates and Edwards backers that are in either the Obama or Clinton, but uncommitted.

They don't have to commit Clinton to form a majority under Clinton, but they can on this vote alone.

Also, it's likely that the delegates from FL and MI give Clinton a 100 or more delegate advantage, and that may very well be enough to move her from a plurality to a majority, in that alternate scenario.

Regardless, what I'm pointing toward is that the superdelegates are likely to be the ones that support the seating of MI & FL, if Clinton is already ahead.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-01-27 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Maybe, maybe. But remember, over half of the superdelegates are DNC members, and these are DNC rules, these are Howard Dean's rules, that they would be overturning. And if they willing to support the seating of the delegations, than they would be willing to support Clinton anyway.

Your other point: Does the math support moving her from a non-majority to a majority with MI and FL? After we see the FL numbers, we'll have a better idea how small or big a window is to support that scenario.

by msn1 2008-01-27 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

It seems to me that much of the point of the draconian penalty was to stop a domino effect from occurring.  Of course, they could have stopped the problem even earlier in the process by penalizing New Hampshire for jumping out of turn.

If you had asked Howard Dean, in his heart of hearts, whether he expected MI and FL to be permanently disenfranchised, I suspect his assumption was that their rights would be restored once the primary season was complete.  I believe the draconian sanction was simply to prevent other states from copying Florida at the time.

by Steve M 2008-01-27 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Perhaps you are right about his intent, perhaps you are not. But I still agree with the people who say that if these delegates would matter they won't be seated. This is particularly true because Obama and Edwards pulled out of Michigan.

by JDF 2008-01-27 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

I just think the superdelegates would go along with whomever has the plurality, basically. But, as Clinton knows, her delegates in NH and IA would likely be pressured to vote against it... it all seems hypothetical; but thanks for the informative post.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-01-27 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

No rules would be 'overturned'. All Jerome is saying is that the super-delegates would vote with Clinton to resolve the deadlock (probably after exacting concessions from Clinton).

by kristoph 2008-01-27 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

An interesting and plausible scenario.  In that case, do you see any controversy arising among rank-and-file Democrats from a close nomination being tipped by super-delegates?:


But in early 1970's, the party's rules were reformed to open the process to grass-roots activists, women, and ethnic minorities.

Sen. George McGovern, the leading anti-Vietnam war liberal, won the 1972 nomination. McGovern turned out to be a disaster as a presidential candidate, winning only one state and the District of Columbia.

So without reverting to the days of party bosses like Buckley, the Democrats decided to guarantee that elected officials would have a bigger voice in the nomination.

Tom Curry - What role for Democratic 'super-delegates'? MSNBC 26 Apr 07

What would you assume the progressive position in the netroots or among 'grass-roots' activists would be in this scenario, granting that it is entirely in keeping with party rules and orthodoxy?  Or in the general election among supporters of the losing candidate(s) for the nomination?

by Shaun Appleby 2008-01-27 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Yea, I do see controversy, and I would hope it's pushback against the superdelegates playing so large a role, and having so large a percentage of the delegates.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-01-27 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

It is hard to predict.  Under Jerome's scenario the party leadership would be voting to enfranchise over a million democratic voters.  So, it is not the same at all of the "smoky back rooms" of old.

This whole situation shakes up what we would think of the normal alliances and support structures.

Would the netroots and grassroots support disenfranchisement?  Would the party establishment be put in the position of making sure the voice of the most Democrats are heard?

It is 180 degrees from your example from days of old.

by rcipw 2008-01-27 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

No, I think it's a separate issue-- no one choses the superdelegates in the nomination path to make the presidential decision, and if you subtract out MI & FL, they are a very large percentage of the delegate makeup this time.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-01-27 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

I agree.  My point is that when you say "no one chooses the superdelegates in the nomination path to make the presidential decision" by 'making the presidential decision' they would be called on to enfranchise or disenfranchise over a million democratic voters.  I think it is interesting that the newer party structures/netroots/grassroots by might aligned for disenfranchising, while some of the more establishment party forces might be aligned for enfranchisement.

by rcipw 2008-01-27 03:28PM | 0 recs
Do Not See The Political Wisdom In That Scenario

If Clinton goes into the convention without the required number of delegates needed to secure the nomination...but Obama DOES have enough delegates to secure the nomination when Edwards gives him his delegates...and that FACT is known for weeks before the convention is held and reported upon ad nauseum...it would be very nearly political suicide for us and the Democratic party, for a small group of superdelegates to undo that FACT...by using the mechanism of adopting a report, then seating the Michigan and Florida delegations in contravention of the DNC ruling that had been in place for nearly a year, and essentially honored by all the campaigns.  

There would be civil war in the party.

You better hope it doesn't come to that, because all of us will suffer if that transpires.

by Demo37 2008-01-27 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Do Not See The Political Wisdom In That Scenar

That's not what I was saying-- the Obama-Edwards being more than Clinton.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-01-27 03:14PM | 0 recs
Fair Enough

Then I am sensing we are essentially in agreement.

If the delegations from Michigan and Florida are in no way decisive, meaning they will NOT decide who gets the nomination one way or another, a way will be found...at the convention...to allow them to enjoy the "party" er...I mean convention.

They can even sit down in seats if they like...when not waving to the cameras of course.

by Demo37 2008-01-27 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Do Not See The Political Wisdom In That Scenar

If Obama has enough delegates before the convention,  the pressure on Clinton to "withdraw" would just be enormous, and I would expect her to do so. If she doesn't, and the supers put her over the top, the rifts in the party would be as bad as 1968. And for that reason, she would withdraw.

by msn1 2008-01-27 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Do Not See The Political Wisdom In That Scenar

You assume either her or Obama care about causing a party rift. I am not sure either of them would with the nomination hanging in the balance.

by JDF 2008-01-27 08:26PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Agreed.  I had started to write this earlier, but ended up posting after you, but I agree 100% that this is a possibility.

by markjay 2008-01-27 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

It's simple a straightforward matter of reading the law. According to the law, Bush won more electoral votes.

If you paid attention in 2000, you'd know that the real contest was over Florida's electoral votes. Many (myself included) believe that if the will of the people was accurately measured, Gore would have won Florida's electoral votes. If there were no irregularities and Bush won Florida by, say, 120,000 votes instead of 500, there would not have been a problem at all.

Delegates matter like electoral votes. Clinton shouldn't be trying to change the rules half-way through the game.

Can anyone here honestly say that Obama and Edwards would have won zero delegates in Michigan if the state had actually followed the DNC's simple rules, and there had been a real election there?

by Kal 2008-01-27 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

If they had pulled their names off the ballot, yes, they would have won zero delegates.

They knew full well when they pulled their names that the DNC's decision was subject to a final decision at the convention.  They decided to take that chance.

by Steve M 2008-01-27 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

So you agree with me that the results in Michigan do not accurately reflect the will of the people.

Had Michigan followed the very simple rules laid out by the DNC, we would have had a contested three-way primary on 2/5. Because Michigan broke the rules, we ended up with results that are far from the actual will of the people in the state. The unseated delegates are far from representative or democratic.

Of course, this doesn't really matter as they won't be allowed to make a difference in who gets in the nomination.

by Kal 2008-01-27 03:50PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

No, the results do not reflect the will of the people because some of the candidates removed their names from the ballot.  It was their choice.

by Steve M 2008-01-27 04:18PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

No one is trying to change the rules 'half way'.

The DNC made a provision for sitting the delegates through a procedural motion on the assumption that it would not matter. If it matters the issue will become a HUGE problem for the democratic party.

andrewwalker08 has a gread diary on this (linked above)

Basically, if Obama has a majority of delegates without FL and MI but Clinton has more delegates with FL and MI Obama would actually have to have his delegates vote against the FL and MI delegates (imagine what would happen if the nominee for the democratic party 'won' the nomination by disenfranchising 1+ million democratic voters).

Moreover, there is a very good chance Clinton will control the committee which defines the delegate rules so even if Obama controls the delegates which he can use to reject the rules Clinton can simply keep resubmitting the rules. No one knows what would happen in that case.

Personally I think if we get to that point the DNC will force a Clinton/Obama ticket or maybe a 4 year Clinton ticket or something.

by kristoph 2008-01-27 04:14PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Because the rules don't apply to Obama ;) no one can criticize him, mention when he's wrong, or say his plan might not be the best option without being torn apart by his supporters and the press

by werd2406 2008-01-27 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

How does this absurd and merit-less comment relate to the discussion....thats right, it doesn't.

by JDF 2008-01-27 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

I also think that, despite national convention delegates being strong supporters for their particular candidate, some Obama delegates might not be willing to disenfranchise over a million Democratic voters.  I think the pressure to seat the delegations would be intense.

If it remains close, between those that can be peeled off out of disenfranchisement concerns and the super delegates as Jerome mentions, it is not a locked case.

And I agree that, especially if more Democrats voted for Clinton in the primary fight than who voted for Obama, there will be tremendous pressure on the floating super delegates/party elders to follow the will of the most Democrats.

by rcipw 2008-01-27 02:58PM | 0 recs
Florida and Michigan

A scenario where Clinton gets to keep the Michigan delegates that she won in an uncontested election would fracture the Democratic Party.  All hell would break loose, given that the Party asked Obama to withdraw from that race, and he complied in good faith.  

For the party hierarchy to now turn around and say, "Whoops, sorry-- we're going to count those Michigan delegates after all," would lead to a terribly acrimonious situation that would work to the advantage of the Republicans.

by global yokel 2008-01-27 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Florida and Michigan

It's simply not true that the party asked Obama to withdraw.

by Steve M 2008-01-27 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Florida and Michigan

Well, at least try and get educated about why Obama chose to take himself off the ballot in MI before you preach about the end of times.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-01-27 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Florida and Michigan

What are you talking about?  If you're trying to say that the party asked Obama to withdraw from Michigan, you're either just wrong or being disingenuous.  Obama withdrew because he knew he couldn't win Michigan without campaigning there. This has been documented over and over.

by Denny Crane 2008-01-28 04:39AM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

The top tier candidates, Howard Dean, and the Democratic National Committee are all culpable for this sow's ear.  Donna Brazile wouldn't know "fair" if she bumped into it in broad daylight.  We have no reason to believe Dean, the DNC, the Credentials Committee or the super-delegates will walk the talk on enforcing party rules.  Does FL or MI law bind delegates to the primary results? I don't think any state binds delegates after the first round of voting for a nominee.

If I were Dean, I would resign prior to the convention with a public apology for the mess I made.  I would do everything I could to arrange a "gentlemens" agreement to seat the FL and MI delegates from the get go, have every delegation vote "abstain" in the first round, and then release all delegates to vote their conscience in all subsequent rounds.

by bdungan 2008-01-27 04:09PM | 0 recs
Actually, Georgia does bind delegates...

...Here's O.C.G.A. 21-2-196:

21-2-196.  Qualification oath of delegates and alternates to national convention

Any person selected as a delegate or delegate alternate to such national convention shall file a qualification oath with the Secretary of State pledging support at the convention to the candidate of their political party or body for the office of President of the United States for whom they are selected to support. The oath shall state that the delegate or delegate alternate affirms to support such candidate until the candidate is either nominated by such convention or receives less than 35 percent of the votes for nomination by such convention during any balloting, or until the candidate releases the delegates from such pledge. No delegate shall be required to vote for such candidate after two convention nominating ballots have been completed.

by Andre Walker 2008-01-27 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually, Georgia does bind delegates...

Interesting, and interesting that it's for 2 ballots. But how is it enforced? What's to prevent a delegate from actually violating this rule at the convention?

Also interesting that it releases delegates after 1 ballot if they get less than 35%.

Can you provide a link to the state rule?

by msn1 2008-01-27 04:46PM | 0 recs
It is majority Rules as far as I knw

If this gets challenged, it will end up on the floor of the convention.  From there it will be majority rules.  And if anyone has a majority, its a moot point anyway because they already have the endorsement in their pocket.  If Obama has a majority, they won't be seated unless he has the nomination in hand.  If Hillary has a majority, she will bring them in at the start to increase her majority.

Anyway, the real pre-convention battle will be fought out in the rules committee.  Credentials committee people just enforce the rules.

by pjv 2008-01-27 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: It is majority Rules as far as I knw

Agree entirely with your first point.

Disagree with your second point - the Credentials Committee is in charge of seating delegates, not the Rules Committee. From the DNC:

The Credentials Committee is charged with coordinating issues around the selection of delegates and alternates to the Convention.
The Rules Committee makes the rules for the convention, but this really isn't a rules issues, it's a "who are the real delegates" issue.

by msn1 2008-01-27 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Whoever has the most pledged delegates at the end of the process will get the nomination and there are not currently nor will there be prior to the convention any pledged delegates from Florida and Michigan. Assuming the majority of the pledged delegates from the other 48 states that arrive at the convention are pledged to someone other than Hillary, they will not vote to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations if it would affect the nomination. They will of course be able to "join the party" after the nominee is chosen. It doesn't even seem particularly complex to me when you get into the mechanics of it. Obama and Edwards delegates are simply not going to vote to do it, why would they?

And nobody's going to be bent out of shape over getting "disenfranchised". Just like voters in every other state, the voters of Michigan and Florida will have expressed their preference and they will either be happy or unhappy with the nominee based on their individual preference. Assuming they voted for losing candidate, they won't be any more unhappy with the nominee than voters of Iowa would be if it were Hillary or the voters of New Hampshire would be if were Obama.

by dmc2 2008-01-27 04:47PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

I agree completely. I just don't see non-Clinton delegates supporting a procedural vote that helps Clinton get the nomination. That's just not how politics works. Why spend 2 years, and multiple millions of dollars, and then just give it all way for no good reason.

by msn1 2008-01-27 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

I don't see why Edwards delegates necessarily have a vested interest in stopping Hillary at all costs.

by Steve M 2008-01-27 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

If it leads to a contested convention it gives Edwards bargaining power which is good for him. That would be the motivation.

by JDF 2008-01-27 08:29PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

I count not disenfranchising FL and MI as a "good reason." I count not handing the election to the Republicans on a silver platter as a "good reason." Imagine what the Rs and their allies in the media will do with such a gift in the GE. I can hear the jibes about Gov Dean's "48 state strategy" now.

by itsthemedia 2008-01-27 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: How would the Florida and Michigan delegates a

Thanks for the interesting explanation.  As to why Obama or Edwards delegates might vote to seat Michigan and Florida, consider the fact that there are super delegates in addition to elected delegates

Imagine a scenario where, excluding Michigan and Florida, Hillary has 49% of the delegates, Obama has 44%  of the delegates, and Edwards/Other have 8% (but if Michigan and Florida were included, Hillary would have an easy majority) In other words, the only way to deny Hillary the nomination would be to (a) exclude Michigan and Florida, and (b) combine all other delegates in an anti-Hillary coalition.

In such a situation, I don't think there's any way the super delegates would allow Hillary to be denied the nomination.  Instead, they would broker a deal in which Michigan and Florida were included (by their own votes, even if they are not Hillary supporters) in exchange for Hillary accepting Obama as Vice President.

In other words, it's entirely possible that Hillary goes into the convention without a majority, yet Michigan and Florida are still seated, thus giving her a majority.

(Of course, my own opinion is that she'll have a majority even without those two states, but who knows for sure?)

by markjay 2008-01-27 04:50PM | 0 recs
Thank Heavens!

Would you pass this on to armstrong?

by responsible 2008-01-27 06:01PM | 0 recs
Hillary's Florida move could backfire.

Isn't Hillary's call to have the Florida and Michigan delegates seated likely to irritate a lot of the party leaders who arranged for the current agreement to not have them.  This seems to me that her call to have them seated could have a backfire effect when it comes to superdelegate endorsements.  If she is irritating superdelegates and it does come down to them to play King Maker, she may really regret going against the party on this one.

by jbsloan 2008-01-28 05:08AM | 0 recs

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