Al Gore Resurfaces for the DSCC...(Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee)

Al Gore Resurfaces for the DSCC...(Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee)

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Rules and Bylaws Miscellany

It's clear what the Clinton campaign wants out of tomorrow's DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting:

Also on the conference call, the campaign repeated what it said it earlier in the week: that it wants the full Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated; that it wants them seated according to the January primary votes in each state; and that the "uncommitted" votes in Michigan can't be given to Obama -- they must remain uncommitted.

"We are hopeful and confident that after hearing all the arguments and hearing all the facts ... that all the delegates will be seated and all of them will have a full vote," Ickes said.

Greg Sargent clarifies Ickes's point:

Ickes' position is apparently not that these delegates never go to a candidate. It's that the Committee can't pick which candidate they go to -- at the Convention, the uncommitteds can support whomever they wish. Of course, under this scenario, they wouldn't count in Obama's column in the short term, while hers would count.

Does anyone really think Clinton will get what she wants? Not even Clinton supporter Lanny Davis appears to as he has proposed some alternate solutions for Michigan's delegates.

The fairest would be to allocate those 57 [uncommitted] pledged delegates, to Clinton and Obama by the same ratio of their standing to one another in the average of the most recent Michigan statewide polls prior to the Jan. 15 primary. Or perhaps one Solomonic compromise, more generous to Obama than to Clinton, would be to divide the remaining delegates approximately 50-50 between the two of them, 28-27 (giving Clinton the extra delegate since she led in all the latest statewide polls prior to Jan. 15).

Marc Ambinder seems to think the latter is the most likely scenario.

Based on reporting and some guesswork, here is one possible scenario... and note, the numbers aren;t exact, but they're approximately correct: Florida's delegation is restored in full. Each delegate gets a half of a vote; in this scenario, Hillary Clinton would pick up 62 votes and Barack Obama would pick up about 43 for a net gain of 19.

More later on the various FL/MI scenarios/behind the scenes machinations. I'm at the airport in between flights, on my way to Puerto Rico. Will be able to catch up and update later tonight.

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Half Votes For Florida?

In a possible preview of things to come on Saturday, The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Florida DNC member Jon Ausman has revealed that the DNC is leaning toward giving Florida's delegates half votes at the convention (h/t TPM):

"I think we're moving toward half votes for everybody," DNC member Jon Ausman said of his appeal to be heard Saturday by the DNC's rules and bylaws committee. That would mean superdelegates would have the same vote as pledged delegates.

In other words, Florida Democrats would have the same say in the presidential nominee as Democrats in Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands.

Ausman, you may recall, is the author of one of the appeals being heard on Saturday. This is how Ben Smith described it in April:

Ausman's two-pronged appeal asked to reinstate all of Florida's 23 superdelegates, and to give Florida at least half of its pledged delegates back -- his reading of the rules dictates that stripping the superdelegates and reducing the number of pledged delegates by more than fifty percent is prohibited.

Many people have felt that this should have been the sanction levied against MI & FL from the beginning and Terry McCauliffe admitted on Hardball recently that if the DNC had merely stripped MI & FL of half of their delegates from the beginning, "we wouldn't be sitting here talking about Michigan and Florida today." But to the extent that it differs from the Clinton campaign's stated goal of a full seating of both delegations, one does wonder, assuming this is the best remedy Clinton can hope for out of the RBC meeting on Saturday, which I think it is, what her reaction to it will be. The upside for Hillary is that it would serve as an official ratification of January's primaries by the DNC, which by definition puts those popular votes in play. The downside is that it's, well, far short of what she's asked for, which from a practical standpoint means the delegate threshold Barack would need to cross to win the nomination is lower than the 2209 the Clinton campaign regularly touts, and hence more readily reachable.

Update [2008-5-28 3:47:58 by Todd Beeton]:Tommy Flanagan brings us news from The AP that we should not expect full restoration of the Michigan and Florida delegations out of Saturday's meeting. Ya don't say.

A Democratic Party rules committee has the authority to restore delegates from Michigan and Florida but not fully seat the two states at the convention as Hillary Rodham Clinton wants, according to a party analysis.

Party rules require that the two states lose at least half of their convention delegates for holding elections too early, Democratic National Committee lawyers wrote in a 38-page memo.

The memo was sent late Tuesday to the 30 members of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which plans to meet Saturday to consider the fate of convention delegates from the two states. The party is considering plans to restore at least some of the delegates to make sure the two important general election battlegrounds will be included at the nominating convention in August.

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Resolving Michigan

Michigan Democrats have submitted the plan they would like the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to approve at their May 31st Meeting. While Senator Clinton has asked that the delegates be seated according to January's primary results (73-55), Senator Obama has proposed allocating them evenly (64-64) since he wasn't on the ballot. This plan would essentially split the difference.

Michigan Democratic leaders on Wednesday settled on a plan to give presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton 69 delegates and Barack Obama 59 as a way to get the state's delegates seated at the national convention. [...]

The state party's executive committee voted Wednesday to ask the national party's Rules and Bylaws Committee to approve the 69-59 delegate split when it meets May 31. The plan would allow the state's 157 delegates and superdelegates to be seated at the convention.

While the plan would give Hillary Clinton just a 10-pledged delegate advantage, the real key to Clinton's approval of the plan could be the superdelegates, of which Michigan has 29. As of now, among those that have declared, Clinton has a lead, although Obama may have some of those undeclared supers in his pocket, especially after Tuesday. Which could be why ultimately Obama would approve the plan as well. Of course, a couple other reasons Clinton should like the plan are that it officially raises the delegate threshold the candidates need to win AND it arguably legitimizes Michigan's popular vote. But if the Obama campaign does approve this plan, it would be a sure sign of their confidence that even with Michigan (and Florida) Hillary Clinton would not be able to catch up.

Update [2008-5-8 15:39:55 by Todd Beeton]:Yes, Hillary Clinton has rejected the Michigan compromise but I agree with Bowers that it essentially represents the best result she can hope for. Which in itself isn't all that good.

[I]t is extremely unlikely that Clinton will get a better deal than this on Michigan. When it or something similar does pass, Florida will become irrelevant... Even with Florida seated as is, Clinton trails by 95 delegates when the Michigan Party's plan is enacted. Further, since Edwards has declined to make an endorsement, his 32 delegates are now effectively uncommitted superdelegates. So, this means that the best case-scenario for Clinton right now is that she trails by 95 delegates with 550.5 delegates remaining. So, even in Clitnon's best case scenario, Obama only needs 228 of the remaining 550.5 delegates, or 41.4%, to win the nomination.

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A Palatable Compromise Out of Michigan?

CNN has the story:

Michigan's Democrats have released another new proposal yesterday in their quest to ensure their state will be represented at this summer's Democratic National Convention.

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Sen. Carl Levin, Democratic National Committee Member Debbie Dingell and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger - the working group that has been meeting to try to end the impasse -- sent a letter to state party chair Mark Brewer Tuesday in which they urged the Democratic National Committee to seat the Michigan delegation under a formula that would give a 10-delegate edge to Hillary Clinton.

Clinton was the only major candidate to appear on the ballot in the state's January contest, which she won with 55 percent of the vote. No delegates were awarded because of national party penalties on Michigan Democrats for moving up their primary date. Forty percent of January's primary voters chose the "uncommitted" option on the ballot; a majority of those "uncommitted" delegates are backing Barack Obama.

Clinton's campaign has said that the results of the January vote - which would give her an 18-delegate edge, 73-55 - should count. Obama's campaign had said the delegates should be split evenly, 64-64.

This proposal, which splits the difference between what the Clinton campaign is calling for and what the Obama campaign is calling for (actually falling slightly closer to the Clinton position and, what's more, opening the door for Clinton to net even more delegates out of the state through superdelegate endorsements, which she leads in the state by a seven to one margin), seems like a fairly reasonable compromise. On one hand, the proposal would allow for voters' sentiments to have a say despite the fact that their political leaders made the unwise (in retrospect) decision of playing chicken with the Democratic National Committee, and on the other hand it would ensure that Barack Obama is not unduly hampered by having followed the rules and refusing to campaign in the state.

Now it's not clear that either campaign will accept this deal. For the Obama campaign, this would not be optimal because it would enable Clinton to gain delegates (perhaps netting as many as 16 or more) despite the fact that Obama himself did not wage a campaign in the state and, what's more, his name was not even on the ballot. For the Clinton campaign, this deal would lead to giving up eight pledged delegates and, perhaps more importantly, concede some of the uncertainty upon which the campaign is enduring. (With Michigan and Florida resolved, it becomes increasingly clear that the math is difficult, shall we say, for the former First Lady.) Moreover, it's not even clear that this would be the best possible compromise.

But it is a proposed compromise, one in which everyone would be giving up something they want -- but one in which a tricky situation for the party would be resolved. It might not be the best solution possible, but it may be one of the better ones at this point. And the question now must be asked, for all parties involved, as to whether they care more about scoring political points or about resolving this issue.

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