Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yet Another Michigan Delegate Plan

Yet Another Michigan Delegate Plan

The Democratic Party is becoming increasingly desperate for a solution to the mess Michigan made when it decided to screw Iowa and New Hampshire by moving its primary to Jan. 15. How do you make everybody happy -- the two deadlocked campaigns, the Michigan voters who had little say in the matter, and the early states like Iowa that played by the rules?

When in doubt, roll out another plan.

Michigan Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger have presented a plan to the Michigan Democratic Party along with two notorious Iowa caucus haters, Sen. Carl Levin and Democratic National Committee member Debbie Dingell. Their proposal doesn't bother with any rationale other than admitting it's a compromise. The proposal simply splits the difference at Clinton 69, Obama 59. The four party leaders acknowledge that neither campaign is likely to back the proposal, but suggests that the DNC adopt it.

Here's where the math came from. Hillary Clinton won -- or didn't win -- 73 pledged delegates in the Jan. 15 primary, and another 55 went to "uncommitted," since Barack Obama and John Edwards took themselves off the ballot in solidarity with Iowa, New Hampshire, and the other early states. The Clinton campaign is insisting on all 73. The Obama camp's official position is they want an even 64-64 split, which would mean that the Jan. 15 vote itself was meaningless. And the DNC's position is still, officially, that Michigan doesn't get any delegates, as punishment for breaking the calendar.

Michigan blogger Emptywheel at Firedoglake has another, entirely unofficial variation on the split the difference plan, which she expects "will probably get me bounced from local politics."

  • Seat the congressional district level delegates selected on April 19 with full voting strength. 47 of those are Clinton delegates. 36 are officially uncommitted. Emptywheel estimates that Obama won 31 of those, with the others going to union members who originally supported Edwards.

  • Seat three party leader and elected official (PLEO) delegates, all of whom support Clinton.

  • Split the state's 28 at large delegates down the middle: 14 for Clinton, 14 for Obama.

  • And the punishment for violating the calendar? No superdelegates. If Carl Levin wants to go to Denver, he has to run for it like a mere mortal.

    Emptywheel's rationale:

    This solution accomplishes everything everyone has said they want to do. It would give Michigan's voters -- the people who will do the grunt work to get our Democratic nominee elected in the fall -- a say at the convention. It rewards Hillary, slightly, for having won. It penalizes Obama, slightly, for taking his name off the ballot in January. And it penalizes Michigan, 28 total delegates, for having broken DNC rules and moved its primary up.

    But it focuses that punishment on those who played chicken with the votes of Michigan, and lost last year, rather than punishing those who had no choice in the matter and got their ability to cast a vote in a truly fair election. It penalizes the superdelegates, many of whom were instrumental in the decision to defy the DNC.

    This solution falls short of the DNC's mandatory penalty of half of the state delegates, but at least has the element of poetic justice. Roll that plan back to half a vote each for the elected Michigan delegates, and you might even make an Iowan happy. As for the impact on the delegate count, seven superdelegates have endorsed Clinton while one backs Obama. 20 are officially uncommitted, but most are believed to back Clinton.
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