It was a partial victory for both states, each of which submitted challenges to the committee that they restore to them one half of their votes as opposed to denying them any votes at the convention.
The new goalpost is now set at 2118 votes to nominate a presidential candidate.
The committee met in a fish bowl, an open meeting where vocal partisans of the Clinton campaign and Obama campaign looked on. It was covered by both MSNBC and CSPAN, but on CSPAN, at least, one could view the proceedings on a PC, which is what I had to do while distributing SD-18 T-shirts to state convention delegates this morning.
It became clear to me that the committee would not be restoring full votes to either of these two state delegations, despite the impassioned pleas of Jon Ausman for Florida and, and Carl Levin for Michigan. Ausman unsuccessfully argued that it was Republicans that forced the date of the primary. Democrats voted for it as well in the Florida state house because the bill included voting reforms that restored a paper trail to Florida’s voting process.
It was pointed out that the rules committee’s previous ruling that would deny Florida 100% of its delegates served to deter some Florida voters from voting in their primary election. Indeed, Robert Wexler (D – FL) pointed out that Florida stood out as the only state in the union that had fewer Democrats participating in their primary election than Republicans.
That, to me, was a very persuasive argument that the Florida vote was not fully reflective of all Florida voters, indeed representing a subset of voters that one could successfully argue might have produced a different outcome if the election process was unimpeded.
Rules are rules, and under the rules, Florida was to have its delegation halved. My thought, however, was that if the Florida results were in some way skewed, the total effect of that skewing might be mitigated by having its voting power halved. I wonder if this was on the minds of some of these rules committee members.
Michigan, however, was another matter. Michigan Democrats, led by Sen. Carl Levin, were in a fight to deny New Hampshire their continued status of always being first. His argument, also well-received, was that if you look at the results of Iowa and New Hampshire, and look at who continues to be running for president, it is the three winners of them: Obama and Clinton split one each, McCain took both states. His fight, and that of other Michiganders, led to the inclusion of Nevada and South Carolina as two more pre-Super Tuesday primaries, with one of them to occur before New Hampshire’s primary. But, singularly, New Hampshire ran an end-around and placed its primary date second after Iowa. This thoroughly enraged Michigan when the rules committee let them do this, and enraged them further when Michigan voted themselves a pre-February 5th date in retaliation, and they did not also receive a waiver.
Levin also argued that half of their delegation votes be restored, per party rules.
Levin admitted that the Michigan primary election was a “flawed election” in that all candidates did not have their names on the ballot – four withdrew their names, actions that it was later admitted, were something the state should not have allowed. But since it was, it set up an impossible situation where Michigan voters had to choose between Clinton, Kucinich, Gravel and Dodd. Either that or vote “uncommitted”, which 40% of voters did.
The question was asked: did voters who voted for one of the other three, vote for them because their candidate wasn’t listed? Were there those that did not vote for any of the choices because their candidate wasn’t listed? It was also pointed out that there were 30,000 write-in votes (5% of the total) cast that were not counted because of Michigan rules which only allows registered write-in candidates to have their votes counted. And then again, how many Michigan voters simply stayed home because their presidential vote wouldn’t count?
Clinton’s camp’s position was that the votes should be counted and delegates awarded, as-is, 73 delegates for Clinton, 55 uncommitted, without regarding the obvious fact that the election was ”flawed”. Obama’s people argued the fact that the delegate votes should be split 64-64, ignoring the fact that a vote had taken place. The Michigan Democratic Party offered a compromise, one that they had agreed to among all factions in their state, one that they begged the committee adopt: 69 Clinton, 59 Obama. This figure, they came up with mainly from exit polls and those 30,000 uncounted write-in votes. They were obviously squeamish about this compromise as well, but the fact was, it had already been agreed to within the state by all parties concerned.
This split, and the half vote per delegate rule was eventually passed by the committee with a combination of votes from Obama supporters, uncommitted supporters, as well as 4 Clinton supporters.
Harold Ickes, Clinton’s chief advisor, also on the committee, was visibly upset by the ruling, uttering words not permitted on the public networks, and promising a fight in the Credentials Committee.
The committee meeting adjourned to heckles and catcalls from the Clinton supporters in the audience. Clearly Harold Ickes’ words were having an effect that rulings handed down in this committee meeting did not serve to unite the Party, but would further divide it. It made me further reflect on the threats of staunch Clinton Democrats (Clintocrats ?) who threaten to bolt to the Republican side if Obama is handed the nomination. Are they truly serious? Would they purposely inflict more pain on our country because they couldn’t have their female nominee?
I cannot fathom it, but then when it comes to understanding the female mind, I am truly, very truly, Half Empty.