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.