How Some Florida Delegates Could Be Seated

Yesterday, I asked what the difference was between the Credentials Committee and the Rules and Bylaws Committee and why the Clinton campaign in its response to Howard Dean's latest statement mentioned the Rules and Bylaws Committee when the media keeps talking about the Credentials Committee.

Marc Ambinder provides this possible explanation:

Here's what's happening. Remember the Ausman challenge? Well, there are actually two Ausman challenges -- one regarding Florida's superdelegates, and one regarding the ability of the party's rules and bylaws committee to penalize an entire delegation.

Sources close to the DNC's rules and bylaws committee say that the Ausman challenges WILL be heard -- and that if the votes are there, some Florida delegates could be seated -- temporarily -- by the end of April. (The seating would likely be appealed to the credentials committee, but we'll cross that suspension bridge when we pay the toll for it.)


From my post yesterday:

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?

Now on the Ausman challenges. Ausman was a Kucinich supporter who is a Florida superdelegate. You can read his appeal here.

The Rules and Bylaws committee reportedly is meeting in April. If it agrees with Ausman, the 22 Florida superdelegates (but not the pledged or other delegates) would be seated.

According to Dem Convention Watch, 8 of Florida's superdelegates so far have declared for Hillary and 4 for Obama. Florida haa 210 delegates all together. Hillary won the popular vote and the pledged delegate count in the Jan. 29 primary.

Here's a list of the chairs and members of the Rules and Bylaws committee. (pdf) Their bios start on page 10.

According to the Ocala Times,

Twelve of the committee's 30 members support Clinton, while eight support Obama, according to The New York Times' count of superdelegates. Three of the 10 uncommitted committee members have donated money to Clinton's campaign since Jan. 1, 2005, although one of the three gave to both candidates, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Ausman is a member of the committee. He is Florida's leading DNC member.

As to my view, I'm in favor of invalidating or repealing the penalty and counting all the votes and delegates per the Jan. 29 primary. As I've stated too many times to count,

I don't believe that Obama suffered because of the lack of campaigning allowed in Florida. And, if he did, so did Hillary. They had television. Floridians could watch the debates and the nightly news and read the newspapers. They weren't living in a cave.

It's evident from the high turnout in the Florida primary -- 1.7 million Democrats voted in a primary that was not open to Independents-- that Floridian Democrats came out in record numbers. They voted early, voted absentee and voted on their primary day.

....The DNC was wrong to penalize them -- and the state party repeatedly told voters they would try to get the decision overturned and it was important for them to vote. So did elected officials. People listened. Again, they turned out in record numbers.

Florida held a primary, not caucuses. It would be wrong to hold caucuses now in lieu of a primary. Nor do they need a new primary. The voters spoke. Hillary and Obama were both on the ballot. The DNC just needs to count the votes that were cast.

Hillary got 871,000 votes, 49.8% and Obama got 576,000 votes, 32.9%. The Florida delegates should be awarded consistent with those votes. They should be counted. No new elections. End of story.

If only it were. Let's take a poll.

< Donna Brazile Was Behind The Stripping of The FL/MI Delegations? | Hillary Agrees to North Carolina Debate >


Should Florida's Delegate Votes Count in Picking Nominee?
Yes, according to Jan. 29 vote, penalty should be lifted entirely 89%
Yes, as to superdelegates only 0%
Yes, if the campaigns agree on a new formula for delegate dividing 4%
Yes, 50/50 split 2%
No, Florida should be excluded from choosing the nominee 2%

Votes: 68
Results | Other Polls
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  • Display: Sort:
    There was supposed to be an (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Joan in VA on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:16:40 PM EST
    investigation and if it was found that the state dems tried to follow the dates, then there would be no punishment at all. Anyone know what happened there? Why are Repubs allowed to monkey with our primary?

    Why, indeed. (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:20:43 PM EST
    The problem with that, is that the Florida Democrats voted to move up the primary because the Republicans made it a condition of agreeing to get rid of the e-voting machines.

    So unfortunately, the Democrats agreed...but they had no choice if they wanted a fairer election in November.


    The credentials committee (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by BevD on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 02:13:01 PM EST
    That committee is controlled by the candidate with the most delegates.  That would be Obama.

    The problem with the party's contention that the DNC controls when primaries are to held, not the state party, ignores the fact that primary dates are legislated by their respective state legislatures.  For example, in Florida, the legislature determined the date and even if the Florida state party wanted to change the date they couldn't unless they overturned the law.  Since the law encompassed voting reforms along with voting rights and the primary dates, the legislature would have to have overturned the entire bill.  Any state democrat who voted against the original bill would have been voting against voting reform laws in a state with a public highly critical of the then current voting laws.  The DNC would have been asking state democrats to commit political suicide for a bill that would have passed anyway.

    Even if state dems had introduced new legislation to amend the bill, since the legislature is controlled by republicans, it would either not be heard in committee or gotten out of committee to the floor in any kind of timely fashion that would have affected the primary date statute for 2008.  The National Committee was asking the state democrats to do the impossible.

    Technically, the Iowa caucus is in violation of Rule 11.A since the rule states that their caucus must be held no earlier than 22 days before the first tuesday in February, and it was held 34 days before the first tuesday in February.  Iowa's caucus was held Jan. 3, and it should have been held Jan 15, to be in compliance with the committe rules.

    Florida was not trying to be first (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Terry M on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 07:03:03 PM EST
    Just a point of clarification: Florida's moved-up primary did not make Florida first, as suggested by another poster above.  Iowa, NH, and SC still came before Florida's primary.

    As for the idea that moving big states up to the front end of the primary season makes no sense because the primary would be over early - very rarely is the primary seaon not over early.  It actually makes more sense, I would suggest, for a state like Florida, which internally has demographics (race, income, education levels, etc) which closely matches the nation as a whole, to go early in the process.  The small percentage of Iowans who participate in the caucas and the good folks of NH are typical of the nation as a whole.  

    But that is old news.  The question for the DNC now is what is going to be done to mitigate against the hard feelings that Floridians have about this process.

    I'm sorry, but the idea that we should just lump it and vote for whoever the D party nominates is asking us to be stooges.  We are being railroaded and we have every right to protest such undemocratic treatment

    Florida Democrats have had no power to stop the setting of a primary date.  What should Florida Dems have done differently?

    Pelosi speaks passionately about Tibet - Hello? We in Florida would love a little democracy too!

    Here's one suggestion - take Donna Brazile out of the process.  She pretends to be neutral when she is not - she's got a dog in the hunt and it colors her views on Florida/Michigan mess.  The fact she continues to speak for the DNC on shows like "This Week" really undermines the process.  Not that I have any faith in the DNC's legitimacy at this point . . . sigh.

    The poll results are no surprize !! (none / 0) (#1)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:46:53 PM EST
    Can the rules and bylaw committee make a new permanent convention rule to undo the penalty?

    That is the million dollar question.

    This is for the lawyers here.. (none / 0) (#3)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:51:04 PM EST
    I am not a lawyer..

    If some one commits an act that is considered a crime under the laws when the act was commit... but subsequently a law is passed that makes that act a non-offense... how does the law apply .. is the punishment revoked..


    It depends (none / 0) (#5)
    by fuzzyone on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:57:46 PM EST
    on whether the legislature makes the repeal retroactive.  If it does not, then no.  (Now you specified legislative repeal, if a court found the statute was unconstitutional, then the conviction and punishment would not stand).

    good point (none / 0) (#6)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:59:58 PM EST
    I think the 50% (and definitely the 100%) penalty is unconstitutional.

    It was ruled constitutional (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by BevD on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 07:30:19 PM EST
    I believe that the Supreme Court found that the decision by the DNC was constitutional - this was in a fairly recent suit filed in 2007.  I agree that the party has the right to make rules and exact penalties for the flagrant abuse of those rules, but I would think that the punishment is excessive and the burden of the punishment falls disproportionately on those registered democrats/party members who have no control over the state legislature.  It's a case of the sins of the father being visited upon the children.  If this was so important to the DNC that the rules be followed then why did they not perform due dilligence in informing the voters of the state that their representation would be nullified by this legislation?  The National Committee had the duty of notifying the registered democratic voters that this particular piece of legislation would imperil their right to participate in the national convention.  Informing the state party chairman isn't enough, the state party chairman doesn't not control the legislature nor does it set the legislative agenda for this state legislature and secondly, these particular rules and the enforcement of them were the sole responsibility of the National party, not the state party.  The state party does not have the authority to mandate the rules of the national party only the DNC has that mandate.

    What provision of the constitution (none / 0) (#8)
    by fuzzyone on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:03:15 PM EST
    do you think is being violated?

    discrimnation (none / 0) (#10)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:08:02 PM EST

    FL/MI were not the only states to go against the rules.. but were the only ones penalized...

    True, but the difference is (none / 0) (#16)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:22:44 PM EST
    The state of California had been pondering moving its primary up for 20 years, and the DNC kept them from doing so with bribes (not threatened penalties --- you don't threaten California anymore than you would New York).

    After 20 years of having a primary that simply approved of the nominee apparent, the bribes were no longer as appealing, so they accepted a compromise deal (2/5), and opened up the other states moving forward to that date.

    All except FL and MI either moved their primaries up to no earlier than 2/5 or had a patron who was able to swing a deal.

    Personally, I thought MI had a better argument for being an early state. Rust Belt issues should be heard. But since I found out about the paper trail being on the legislation, I'm far more sympathetic to FL than I was.

    But..... all that is what it is. Now the question is what to do.

    I don't favor disenfranchisement - lived in California long enough to know what that feels like. And as a Californian, I can't apologize for being in the state that first broke the rules. They needed to be broken.


    I take it that would be an equal protection (none / 0) (#27)
    by fuzzyone on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:35:36 PM EST
    argument.   But that only applies to government actions, not those of private entities like the democratic party.  Moreover, I think they probably have a rational distinction which is that the other states only moved their votes up in response to FL and MI in order to maintain the order of primaries that the DNC had sanctioned.  (I think that's right?)

    As a constitutional and legal matter I think that, short of some sort of voting rights violation re race, etc, the parties can choose nominees as they wish.  Remember, the superdelegates are totally undemocratic but they are okay.


    Wow (none / 0) (#35)
    by RickTaylor on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 02:12:01 PM EST
    Can the rules and bylaw committee make a new permanent convention rule to undo the penalty?

    That really would be changing the rules in the middle of the game. I don't see how that's legitimate. Making a permanent new rule that would apply to the next election would be fine, but of course that wouldn't affect this election.


    I'd be okay with (none / 0) (#2)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:50:33 PM EST
    following the 50% rule if a penalty must be imposed.

    Definition of "long maintained"? (none / 0) (#7)
    by fuzzyone on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:02:33 PM EST
    I will start by saying I was for a revote and, though an Obama supporter, I thought he was wrong to not work for one and emailed him saying so.  I think that the DNC screwed this up and should have imposed the 50% penalty specified in the rules.  I also totally disagree that not campaigning made no difference.  Obama has closed the gap everywhere he has campaigned, especially early in the process when he was not as well known.  

    All that being said where does Clinton come off saying she has "long maintained that pretending the voters of Florida and Michigan don't exist is not fair in principle and unwise in practice."  She has maintained that exactly as long as it was in her political interest to do so an not one second longer. (Ickes is worse of course, now arguing against a penalty he voted for.) I know I should by used to the hypocrisy of politicians, they all do it.  But this is just so blatant.

    Of course (none / 0) (#14)
    by Korha on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:19:23 PM EST
    There's no doubt whatsoever in my mind that if their positions were reversed Clinton would be acting exactly as Obama is now, and vice versa. But they're both politicians. The real culprits at fault here are 1) Michigan democrats, 2) Florida democrats, 3) the DNC. Number one is especially blatant, at least Florida has the excuse that the Republicans controlled the legislature.

    Another point that gets lost is that (none / 0) (#9)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:06:30 PM EST
    the reason so many Floridans and Michigan's went to poll is to voice against the monopoly of the Iowa .. and it is a legitimate protest.. that is how democracy works... they stood against a discrimination.. rather than trying to figure out a valid solution against that monopoly of Iowa.. we returned favor by penalizing the states that had the courage to VOICE against this discrimination.. [another point gets lost is that FL/MI were not the only states to go against the rules.. but were the only once penalized.. hint SC.. looks like the whole process was rigged in favor of Obama]

    Florida already has over 200 delegates (none / 0) (#18)
    by RickTaylor on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:24:43 PM EST
    It already has a huge influence on the elections. Allowing them to compound that by allowing them to go first in the nation makes no sense. If just a few big states decided to do that, the primaries would usually be over almost as soon as they'd begun.

    They often are anyway.... (none / 0) (#22)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:32:36 PM EST
    but I understand your point.

    I definitely think a national primary should be considered in 2012, with no caucuses and instant runoff voting.


    Split into 3 parts maybe (none / 0) (#25)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:34:20 PM EST
    simply for logistics.

    Maybe... (none / 0) (#28)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:36:09 PM EST
    or over one weekend.

    Make 'em close (none / 0) (#30)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:37:32 PM EST
    and rotate the dates each presidential cycle so no region feels left out.

    Better yet, over a WEEK (none / 0) (#41)
    by splashy on Fri Apr 04, 2008 at 09:34:46 PM EST
    So that everyone will have a chance to vote on their day off or whatever.

    That's how it's done in Arkansas, and we love it.


    yes, but the point is that they should work out (none / 0) (#32)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:40:22 PM EST
    for a possible solution rather than threaten or penalize.. there are number of ways they can do, they had ample time to do this in a more dignified manner than this undemocratic fashion

    The solution is easy (none / 0) (#11)
    by Korha on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:13:59 PM EST
    Obama should just agree to seat the Florida delegation and Michigan delegations (he gets the uncommitted vote). Done. This still puts him ahead in pledged delegates as well as the popular vote.

    Yes, this means Clinton in a favorable scenario could overtake him in the popular vote by the end of the primary campaign. But it's good for the party, and Obama should just take one for the team.

    No I'm not holding my breath for this to happen.

    Even that (none / 0) (#13)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:17:09 PM EST
    would be unfair to HRC, since all the people who voted "uncommitted" were not necessarily voting for Obama.

    But at this point, I'll take almost any solution as long as it's not a 50/50 split.


    What? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Korha on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:25:57 PM EST
    Florida was a real election. Nobody can call Michigan a real election; Obama wasn't even on the ballot, and it's impossible to determine how many people would have voted for him if he had been. I would push for a revote in Michigan but it seems too late for that now. So this is the next best solution, and more than fair, seeing that Clinton isn't going to get any delegates at all from either MI or FL the way things are going. There's no politically expedient reason Obama should agree to seat those delegates before the nomination has already been decided, and without his agreement nothing's going to happen.

    Obama wasn't on the ballot (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:32:15 PM EST
    because he took his name off. The DNC did not require it.

    Ergo, your argument is that since he made a bad political move, he should be rewarded?

    If you don't favor a re-vote, there are exit polls you can extrapolate Obama support among the uncommitted.

    If you don't favor extrapolation, then award him 1/2 of the uncommitted. That would actually give him a few more than indicated, but I'm willing to give him a bit more to solve the problem.


    Wow (none / 0) (#37)
    by Korha on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 02:20:38 PM EST
    Michigan was not a real election. A fake election is not fair. It doesn't matter why it was fake, the point is that it was.

    Clinton will not get any net delegates out of the fake Michigan election at all if she doesn't reach some sort of agreement with Obama. I think it is being more than generous to give Clinton hundreds of thousands of extra votes in a fake election. A revote is ideal, of course, but won't happen (yes I know Obama killed it, and shame on him).  


    All the uncommitted? (none / 0) (#17)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:24:11 PM EST
    No. Not actually fair. Fair would be a re-vote in a primary.

    Revote would be ideal (none / 0) (#20)
    by Korha on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:26:26 PM EST
    Won't happen though.

    But it would have been fair (none / 0) (#23)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:33:24 PM EST
    if the candidates and their proxies hadn't been so involved in fairy tales scenarios about what would have happened if Obama hadn't taken his name off the ballot.

    Because Obama won't let it. (none / 0) (#24)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:34:13 PM EST
    Too bad he isn't listening to his supporters who think it would be a good idea.

    Was trying to appear tooo partisan (none / 0) (#26)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:35:31 PM EST
    but facts are stubborn things.

    excuse, "not too partisan" (none / 0) (#29)
    by SantaMonicaJoe on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:36:23 PM EST
    I have to log off soon and reload my keyboard driver.

    Today, it's having real problems.



    Shame on him (none / 0) (#38)
    by Korha on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 02:21:20 PM EST
    In my opinion, HRC's (none / 0) (#31)
    by 1jpb on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:37:57 PM EST
    hand is being over played by her supporters when it is suggested that the FL vote should be seated as is.  

    A fair election is one where the results matter, campaigning is not banned, get out the vote efforts bring in more voters, and the rules don't change after people vote.

    I hope everyone will agree that FL didn't meet the standards of a fair election.  Because of this it's not possible to retroactively declare the first vote definitive.  Some compromised position will be required.


    it may not be correct 100% but (none / 0) (#33)
    by TalkRight on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:42:36 PM EST
    the results would be a better proxy than not having their say or 50% split

    I'm not clear (none / 0) (#34)
    by ineedalife on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:56:20 PM EST
    If Hillary picks up 4 more votes on the Rules committee she can force the FL and MI delegates to be accepted sometime this month? Can they waive all penalties? Or does it require a super-majority? Is there a chance that she has already identified 4 more votes and is laying the groundwork for public acceptance of the Rules committee's decisions.