Democrats Seek Solution To Michigan, Florida Primary Issues
RTT NEWS Global Financial Newswire

3/10/2008 5:18:34 PM The Michigan Democratic Party says it is happy to hear that Govs. Jon Corzine of New Jersey and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania have pledged to help raise millions of dollars to stage new primaries in Michigan and Florida.

The governors, both supporters of Hillary Clinton, said Sunday that they would be willing to raise half of the $30 million it would take to give voters in the two states a chance to choose between Clinton and her rival Barack Obama.

“If, if, if, there is a do-over, of course, we like to see somebody else pay for it,” Michigan Democratic Party spokeswoman Liz Kerr told RTTNews, adding that the state party would rather spend its money to elect Democrats this fall.

She said the Michigan Democratic Party, most of all, would like its delegates counted. So far, the state's delegates, along with those from Florida, they have been excluded because the two states scheduled their primaries earlier than the Democratic National Committee allows.

Kerr said the state party would support a resolution that is agreeable to the party's two presidential hopefuls, the Democratic National Committee and the Michigan Democratic Party.

Whether that comes in the form of a vote do-over or a reallocation of delegates from the state's Jan. 15 primary or some other plan - that is all being negotiated, Kerr said.

“What we want is to get our delegates seated in a way that's agreeable to all four parties,” she said. “What we want is a united Democratic Party.”

University of Florida political science Professor Michael Heaney said he believes the Democratic Party would iron out a solution in the next few weeks, allowing the states to have their delegates seated.

“The election has been closer than anyone dreamed it would be,” Heaney told RTTNews. “Everybody wants Florida and Michigan delegates seated; nobody in the Democratic Party wants to disenfranchise voters.”

At the same time, he said, Obama doesn't want to give those delegates to Clinton especially when he wasn't even on the ballot in both states.

“The only sticking point is the millions of dollars” to pay for the do-over primaries, Heaney said.

“My feeling is the money will materialize,” he said. “The only real disadvantage to spending their money on the elections is that there is some other political purpose that the money could have been used for.”

In an appearance on CBS News' “Face the Nation” program on Sunday, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he thought it was "very unlikely" that Florida and Michigan delegations would be seated at lease without some concessions.

"I think it's very unlikely that Florida and Michigan, given how close this race is, are going to be seated as-is," Dean said. "But everybody's going to work very hard to find a compromise within the rules that's fair to both campaigns that will allow Florida and Michigan in the end to be seated.”

He also said the national party would not pay for a vote do-over in Michigan and Florida should the states decide to hold new primaries. He said DNC money would be better spent challenging Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive GOP nominee.

National Democratic political strategist Robert Weiner told RTTNews that there is no question that Michigan and Florida should hold do-over primaries.

“You have to have a re-vote,” said Weiner, a former White House aide during the Clinton administration, who has not endorsed in the race. “The ideal is having a full primary in both states,” he said in an interview.

Excluding voters in Michigan or Florida, he said, would harm the party and “brings back sordid memories” of the Florida voting debacle in the 2000 presidential election between George Bush and Al Gore.

“Those votes have to be counted no matter which candidate might be benefited,” Weiner said, noting that Clinton would likely benefit. He added that the party's superdelegates will likely have to help pick the nominee based on “what's best and who would win.”

According to a CNN tally, Obama leads the race for delegates, with 1,553 delegates, compared to Clinton's 1,438.

As for having a brokered convention, where neither Clinton nor Obama had the 2,025 delegates necessary to clinch the party's nomination, it would be an advantage for Democrats, Weiner said.

“If a brokered convention was good enough Franklin Roosevelt, who got (the party's nomination) on the fourth ballot, or Woodrow Wilson, who got it on the 46th ballot, what is the problem with having a brokered convention if the Democratic Party has a history of electing at conventions through multiple ballots,” he asked.

Weiner said many party insiders are overstating the harm a brokered convention would do to party unity.

He said not having a presumptive nominee before the party's national convention in August would allow Democrats to highlight their positions in the media without having the “dead time for months and months(in the press) that McCain is facing” because he has essentially secured the GOP nomination.

He said Clinton and Obama are having “healthy and legitimate” debates over such issues as “experience verses hope” and their differences on health care and the economy.

“There is nothing wrong with the Democrats debating the issues or each other en route to blasting the Bush-McCain alliance on the war and tax breaks for the rich,” he said.