Monday, April 28, 2008

DNC To Hear Michigan and Florida Challenges

The Rules and By-Laws Committee of the Democratic National Committee will meet on May 31 to hear challenges to the decision not to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations. For some more information, see the Democratic Convention Watch website, which has the Committee's notice of its meeting.

The Rules and By-Laws Committee is stacked in Hillary Clinton's favor. The Committee has 30 members, of whom 12 are committed to Hillary, 8 to Obama and the rest uncommitted. One of Obama's supporters on the Committee is from Florida, so he may not be allowed to vote on the Florida challenge. (This info is also from DemConWatch) Obama would need to get seven of the 10 uncommitted members to force a tie, so Clinton obviously has a big advantage.

The co-chairs of the Committee are Alexis Herman, who resides in Virginia, and James Roosevelt of Massachusetts. (Virginian Jerome Wiley Segovia is also on the Committee.)
Obama could still capture a majority of the Committee. Of the 10 "uncommitted" delegates on the Rules Committee, seven are projected to eventually go for Obama by a stastical model created by the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, while the other three are not included in the projection.
Of course, being committed to a candidate doesn't mean a committee member won't "do the right thing" in any event, but it will color their views.
In any event don't expect whole Michigan/Florida issue to somehow magically be resolved on May 31. This is just the first step. Most likely, the next step will be an appeal to the Credentials Committee. If Obama hasn't clinched the nomination before the convention, then the committees' decisions would probably be challenged on the convention floor.

While we'd rather not see the nomination come down to a floor fight and dramatic up or down vote at the Denver convention, we did talk to one astute friend this weekend who pointed out--and we agree with this--that such a finish would focus all media energy on the Democratic Party and it's right on through August, sucking the wind out of anything McCain would try to do.

[Our friend had a funny story. He was in India (no, not Indiana) and talking to a businessman about the US election. The businessman said he thought either Clinton or Obama would be a big improvement over Bush. "What about McCain?" our friend asked. "Who's McCain?" said the Indian businessman.]

If the nominee who emerged from such a dramatic process could then get up and make an impassioned and effective acceptance speech--with the whole world literally watching--it could touch off a final 10-week push to the general election with tremendous momentum.

While we're intrigued by that scenario, it's obviously risky, as a summer of bickering between supporters of both candidates could create dangerous party divisions that might not be healable in the short time after the convention.

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