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article imageOp-Ed: Florida and Michigan a Problem Now for Democrats

By Susan Duclos     Feb 9, 2008 in Politics
There is a growing sense of urgency about the need to deal with the Michigan-Florida issue, but no easy answer. What happens could decide whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.
With the Republican nomination all but officially decided we turn to watch the spectacle of the Democratic infighting and problems and today the Washington Post points out the seriousness of the the DNC's decision to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates.
"The Florida and Michigan situation is untenable in its current form and unacceptable to go into a nominating convention [where Clinton and Obama] could be separated by the number of delegates in those states," said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist and veteran of presidential delegate wars. "If you go into the convention with that kind of cloud hanging over your head, it's a very dangerous situation."
Under the original allocations, Florida was to have 210 delegates and Michigan 156, making Florida's the third-largest delegation to the convention and Michigan's the fifth-largest. The Democrats might have done what the Republicans did to states that violated the rules, which was to cut their delegations in half. Instead, the DNC took the nuclear option. Now everyone is left to clean up the mess.
Long story short, Florida and Michigan moved their primaries forward and the DNC decided to penalize them for it by stripping all their delegates from the convention.
The Democratic candidates, all but Hillary Clinton and a couple that have already dropped out of the race, had themselves removed from the Michigan ballot and pledged not to actively campaign in Florida and in Michigan.
Hillary Clinton did not remove herself from the Michigan ballot and she went back on her word and flew to Florida the night of the primary to increase her "visibility" in the state.
So, Hillary won Michigan by default, Florida isn't as much of a problem because the other Democratic candidates didn't take their names off of that ballot.
After winning the states, Hillary Clinton then decided that she wanted the DNC to reinstate those delegates....in here lies the problem for the Democratic party now.
If the DNC does allow the Michigan delegates to be seated, the Obama camp, would understandably and rightly, be outraged, because Obama kept his pledge and promise and he would be penalized for following the rules, while Clinton would be rewarded for breaking hers. The same goes for Florida, Obama kept his word there too and didn't not campaign or make himself visible while Hillary did make herself visible by flying there and making herself visible against her word.
Tad Devine, also made a couple of statements that accurately portray the problem at hand for the Democrats "The Florida and Michigan situation is untenable in its current form and unacceptable to go into a nominating convention [where Clinton and Obama] could be separated by the number of delegates in those states. If you go into the convention with that kind of cloud hanging over your head, it's a very dangerous situation."
He goes on to to say that finding a solution to this without trampling on the rights of the voters would be a challenge and in his opinion, what is needed is "a mechanism that takes account of what has happened but doesn't unfairly penalize Senator Obama for not fully participating."
Yesterday we showed the concern Howard Dean had for the Democratic party with the race between Clinton and Obama being so close, a closeness that was described by Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democratic politician, as a potential "train wreck".
The eventual decision, one way or another by the DNC, could very well, if not handled fast and correctly, gives us a birds eye view of those two trains colliding just as Nelson predicted.
I can honestly say I wouldn't want to be in Howard Deans shoes as the Democratic National Committee chairman, right now because all choices lead to bigger problems.
If he seats the delegates from Michigan and Florida he hands Hillary Clinton delegates she got by default because Barack Obama followed the rules and kept his promises and she did not. If he does as the Republicans did and just allows half the delegates to be seated at the convention, there is the same problem, that goes against fairness to Obama and rewards Clinton with unearned delegates. If he doesn't seat any delegates and lets the stated penalties stand, then it strips a number of delegates and forces the decision of who to pick as the eventual nominee to be decided by super delegates instead of the voters.
I certainly would not want his job right now as he decides what bad choice is the best option for his party.
CNN adds another observation that Howard Dean made:
As Dean observed, there have been three divided Democratic conventions in recent decades -- 1968, 1972 and 1980. Democrats lost each time.
The saying, united we stand, divided we fall, sounds perfectly appropriate at this time.
[MAJOR UPDATE] The AP is reporting, via MLive.com, that Hillary Clinton is getting the Michigan delegates.
Hillary Rodham Clinton will get the lion's share of Michigan's Democratic national convention delegates after winning the state's Jan. 15 presidential primary.
This completely contradicts a statement issued by the Democratic National Committee, last night which said "Contrary to published reports, there were no delegates at stake during the Michigan primary on January 15 and, accordingly, the state party has no delegates to allocate."
Expect a statement by the Obama camp shortly.
Developing.....
More about Florida, Michigan, Democratic delegates
 
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