Posted: March 14, 2008 5:36 PM
Michigan, Florida Craft Proposals for New Votes
As the Democratic nominating race comes down to a battle for delegates, Michigan officials met Friday to establish a plan to hold a do-over primary on the first Tuesday in June and Florida leaders gauged reaction to their proposal to hold new in-person and mail-in contests.
The Great Lakes State, which, along with Florida, was stripped by the Democratic National Committee of its delegates for holding early nominating contests, has some obstacles to work out if a re-vote is to occur — the biggest being the $10-12 million price tag for the re-vote.
“The state would pass a law that would appropriate the money to run this special primary election … The state, in turn, would be reimbursed by the Democratic Party or potentially other entities” or even private donors, MSNBC reported.
Several of the state’s Democratic powers, including Sen. Carl Levin and Gov. Jennifer Granholm have both voiced tentative support for the idea.
“The only thing that could stop this primary logistically is if the state party is told — legally — they can’t raise the large soft money contributions they would need,” wrote MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro.
Once the proposal is decided upon, however, it must be approved by both candidates and passed along to the state legislature.
In the original primary, held on Jan. 15, Sen. Hillary Clinton won 55 percent of the vote, but Sen. Barack Obama’s name was not on the ballot.
“The Clinton campaign, which has been pushing to seat the disallowed delegates she won in the Jan. 15 primary or state a do-over, is said to be on-board with the state-run primary,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
Obama called a re-do of a full primary in either Michigan or Florida “not realistic,” according to NPR. “It’s not on the table because neither state wants to pay for it and there are all sorts of problems. In Michigan, for example, the Republicans control the [legislature] and they would have no reason to agree.”
The other thing working against a Michigan re-vote is the clock. Members of both the Democrat-controlled state House and the Republican-controlled state Senate leave at the end of March for a two-week recess.
Thursday, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman sent a proposal to the Democratic National Committee, the state’s Democratic leaders, and both campaigns urging them to “come together around a solution that offers the people of Florida a voice in the nomination process.”
“We have reexamined every potential alternative again. Only one stands out as fair, open, practical and feasible at this time,” the memo said. “We are positive that a combination vote-by-mail and in-person election can be conducted in the time available.”
But unlike the uneasy agreement among Michigan Democrats, things appear less unified in the Sunshine State. “Democratic House members from Florida — including Clinton and Obama supporters and those who are still neutral — announced their opposition to a new primary, including one conducted by mail,” the Washington Post reported.
Friday, Thurman said the proposal is unlikely to proceed “because of concerns about the combined mail-in/in-person election,” the Associated Press reported.
“Thurman will review comments from Democratic leaders and make a decision by Monday on whether to proceed with the do-over. But she said based on what she’s already heard, it’s unlikely to happen,” according to the AP.
Clinton also won the original Florida contest — although all of the Democratic candidates had agreed not to campaign in the state due to its violation of national party rules.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson Friday proposed seating half of the state’s 186 delegates. The plan would allow Clinton the edge achieved in January, but “instead of gaining 38 delegates, Clinton’s victory margin in Florida would be reduced to 19,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean has stated that he will review proposals from both states, but will not change the previously decided-upon rules out of fairness to other states.
“Here’s the bottom line,” he said, according to the Post. “We’d like to find a way to seat Florida and Michigan. We’d like to do it in a way that’s fair, that both sides believe is fair. Fair to the voters but also fair to the campaigns.”