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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

“Do-Over” Kabuki: Another View

My post yesterday suggested that a lot of the negative posturing over a “re-do” plan for Democratic delegate selection in Michigan and Florida was just Kabuki Theater formalism that hid a powerful momentum towards a compromise solution. But June Kronholz has a good article up for the Wall Street Journal today that explains why it may just not happen.
She reports that Michigan Democrats seem to be pulling back from a reported decision to go ahead with a “firehouse caucus,” mainly on cost grounds (though such caucuses are relatively inexpensive). And HRC’s campaign also appears to have gone back to its pre-March 4 “seat them all” position, after briefly hinting at support for a do-over.
Complicating the whole thing is the fact that many of the decision-makers on the ground in MI and FL are backing a candidate (typically HRC), and won’t make a move without the high sign from their champion. And then in FL, a genuine state primary “do-over” would require cooperation from Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican legislative leaders, who are unlikely to go along with any plan that involves significant costs for the state itself.
Kronholz also alludes to another solution: doing what the Republicans did with Florida, and letting the results stand but reducing the number of delegates. That would avoid the “do-over,” but it doesn’t deal with the unique MI problem, where Obama wasn’t on the ballot and would get skunked in pledged delegates. So maybe one possibility is a firehouse caucus do-over in MI, and then a reduced delegate seating in FL. This might be tempting to HRC, since it would leave in place her large popular vote margin in FL. If by the end of the nominating process she’s passed Obama in the total popular vote, that would give her an argument that Obama’s almost certain lead in pledged delegates should be disregarded by superdelegates. But any solution that’s tempting to HRC might well be rejected by Obama on mirror-image grounds.
Aside from Howard Dean’s deal-making and arm-twisting ability, the real issue may be if the two campaigns are willing to live with the default “solution:”

If neither state comes up with a new delegate-selection plan by mid-June, the issue will be tossed to the party’s credentials committee. But a resolution there seems likely to continue the stalemate: The committee will have about the same proportion of Obama and Clinton supporters as the convention does.
In any event, credentials-committee decisions must be ratified by the entire convention, which could result in a televised floor fight and a public-relations nightmare for the party.

Moreover, not to be a broken record about this, but leaving FL and MI to be resolved at the convention itself also means that no candidate will be in charge of convention planning. And that’s a recipe for some real excitement, to be sure, but also chaos.

2 comments on ““Do-Over” Kabuki: Another View

  1. recent_cloud on

    i understand your position re: fl and mi should live with their respective decisions as an academic opinion.
    however,in the real world, the fog of war extends to election battlefields, where decisions are made based primarily on events on the ground and periferally on rules of conduct enacted during the comfort of peace.
    given our immediate historical context, our party decisions should consider expediency of victory over acadenic wallowing.
    put succinctly, let’s make the deal quietly and move on quickly.

  2. Rocket 88 on

    The Clinton campaign won’t go for cheap, quickly arranged caucuses because Obama always wins caucuses. Seating the current delegations would be a travesty because Obama wasn’t on the Michigan ballot and as the (then) lesser-known candidate, had no shot in the early Florida beauty pageant because he followed party rules and didn’t campaign there.
    In today’s Washington Post there is a proposal for do-over primaries funded by the DNC. If that proposal is accepted, I will never again donate money to the DNC. Florida and Michigan made their choices, and should have to live with them.
    If the DNC pays for their legitimate primaries because the voters shouldn’t be “disenfranchised,” then I think every state should cancel funding for its primaries and demand that the DNC pay for them to keep their citizens from being “disenfranchised.” The people of those states disenfranchised themselves when they knowingly and deliberately broke party rules to schedule the early primaries.
    I would be the first to agree to change the stupid and antiquated primary system and its stupid and arbitrary “New Hampshire uber alles” rules. But the fact remains that this is the system that was in place when Michigan and Florida voluntarily decided to break away. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Don’t like it, people of FL and MI? Vote out of office the State Legislators who did this to you.


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