Seating Delegates Not Enough, Their Votes Must Count
I am completely unimpressed by Howard Dean's statement about seating the Florida delegates today.
Seating the delegates at the convention is not the same thing as allowing their votes to count in picking the party's nominee. Timing is everything. If the delegates aren't seated until the convention in August, it will be too late for them to have a role in choosing the nominee.
Dean isn't saying anything that wasn't said by the party initially -- the credentials or rules committee, at the request of the party nominee, can decide to to seat the delegates. As Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman said back in January, before the primary:
Florida's 210 delegates will be seated at the national convention in August. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, honorary chair of the convention; Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean; and former DNC Chairman Don Fowler of South Carolina have all said that, ultimately, the presidential nominee will decide who attends the convention.
Dean seems to be implying that absent an agreement between Hillary and Obama, the delegates won't get to vote because the decision will have to wait until we have a nominee who makes his or her desire known to the appropriate committee.
In order for Florida's 1.7 million votes to really count, the penalty needs to be lifted before the last primary in June. Otherwise, Floridians will have no say in choosing the Democratic nominee. The risk in not lifting the penalty in time for Floridians' votes to count is that they will desert the party in droves in November, either by not voting or by voting for McCain. Who could blame them?
Here's Hillary Clinton's statement about Dean's announcement today:
"We have long maintained that pretending the voters of Florida and Michigan don’t exist is not fair in principle and unwise in practice. This morning’s Quinnipiac poll out of Florida reflects the urgent need for Democrats to get behind our effort to count Florida’s voters and seat its delegation. Chairman Dean is clearly committed to seating the Florida delegation and we urge Senator Obama to join us in calling on the rules and bylaws committee to make this a reality."
Florida has a total 210 delegates and 31 alternates. In addition to the pledged delegates reflected by congressional district and candidate in this chart, Florida is allotted 41 at-large delegates that will be chosen by the Florida Democratic Party State Executive Committee on May 17, 2008. Hillary gets 24, Obama gets 16 and Edwards gets 1.
Florida also gets 24 pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) delegates. Hillary gets 14 of these and Obama gets 10. They will be chosen this Saturday, April 5, in Orlando, FL.
Also on Saturday, three (3) unpledged add-on delegates will be selected by the Florida Democratic Party State Executive Committee from names submitted by the state party chair.
Florida also gets 22 automatic--unpledged-- delegates, who are Florida's members of the DNC and the state's Democratic members of the House and Senate.
Florida also gets 8 seats each on the credentials, platform and rules committee. They will be chosen in May.
What's the difference between the credentials and rules committees?
The Credentials Committee is charged with coordinating issues around the selection of delegates and alternates to the Convention and will likely meet in the summer. The committee will issue a report that is the first official item of business at the Convention.
The Rules Committee is responsible for proposing the Permanent Rules for the Convention, adopting the proposed Convention agenda and making recommendations for permanent Convention officers - all addressed as the second official item of business at the Convention. The committee will meet sometime in August, prior to the Convention.
Hillary's campaign refers to the rules and bylaws committee while the media keeps saying credentials committee. It's the credentials committee if it has to wait until the nominee is chosen.
Can the rules and bylaw committee make a new permanent convention rule to undo the penalty?
Update: It's not too late for you to weigh in. Here's Hillary's Alert.
Update: Comments closing here, new thread on this topic is here.
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