How would the Florida and Michigan delegates actually be seated?
by msn1, Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 02:21:43 PM EST
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.Now the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention ("the Call") states in section II-(B):
"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.
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.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.
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.
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.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.
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 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