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Nothing "Settled" About Democratic Nomination Process

By June 1, 2008

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On Saturday, Democratic party leadership followed Republicans in allowing Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated at the August convention. Like the Republicans, the Democrats cut total votes in half. And on Sunday, Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary.

The unofficial split of Sunday's vote is 42 of the Puerto Rico delegates for Sen. Clinton and 19 for Sen. Barack Obama. Puerto Rico has more delegates than most of the states. The net result: Sen. Obama's lead over Sen. Clinton continued to narrow. He leads with only 51.67 percent (1739.5 to 1626.5) of the delegates selected by voters.

Why the Democratic party didn't make a decision about Florida and Michigan earlier remains a mystery. Although the Ds and Rs take a different approach to punishing party members for decisions of their state legislatures, the net effect is the same for both parties.

And the fact that the state legislature sets the dates -- not party leadership -- should put another nail in the coffin of the current nomination process.

It's past time to separate the machinery of elections -- where every voter is and should be equal -- from that of the party primaries, where "equal" depends on a variety of factors, as is the right of any membership organization. For example, citizens in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands all have a say in picking the nominee, although these are not states and they cannot vote for President.

Puerto Rico, for example, has 63 Democratic convention delegates (23 Republican), nearly twice as many as South Dakota and Montana combined, the final two states holding primaries on Tuesday.

In the Michigan-Florida weekend news, Democratic party leaders awarded Sen. Barack Obama all of Michigan's uncommitted delegates and four delegates won by Sen. Clinton, even though Sen. Obama did not appear on the Michigan ballot. A Clinton supporter and member of the Rules Committee protested this decision:

The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our party.

The vote reflected division within the party. Although the Florida proposal to halve total delegates passed unanimously, the Michigan vote passed 19-to-8. The result, delegate-wise: Sen. Clinton picked up 34.5 delegate votes from Michigan and 52.5 from Florida; Sen. Obama, 29.5 and 33.5, respectively. Sen. Obama pulled his name from the Michigan, but not the Florida, ballot. All Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in either Michigan or Florida.

In addition, Republicans hold a contest in New Mexico on Tuesday.

See 2008 Democratic Delegate Count.

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June 1, 2008 at 8:49 pm
(1) Shannon says:

Why it wasn’t settled before now is no mystery, everybody had accepted the rules at their face value until Hillary started her propaganda about “every vote counting”, but she meant all her votes to count. That left us, the people who believed at face value it wasn’t going to count, and then didn’t go bother voting “uncommitted” becuase, again, it wasn’t going to count. Now that it is going to count, I personally, appreciated the Rules COmmittee considering how the many people like myself feel when changing the rules and saying that they will count, but we who believed, were out in the cold, because we weren’t calculating enough to see it could later be used as a ploy. So, rightfully, the Rules Committee considered all scenarios – more than Hillary bargained for when she called this protest to action. Had we all known that it was really just about Hilary’s votes, we’d have all stayed home. Sorry.

June 2, 2008 at 4:46 am
(2) Starrdo says:

THE DRAMA CONTINUES….The Democratics declare the Florida/Michagan vote illegal. Hillary and Obama agreed that the Florida/Michagan votes would not be counted, because rules are rules. OK..jump ahead a few months, now that Hill is down in delegates and her hopes fading fast in order to become the party nomination and frankly needs to grasp at straws to get it. Lo and behold! insists that the two states seat the delegates. OK…The powers that be went ahead and decided how to go about seating them. IMHO looked pretty equatable.
Now she sinks deeper, that she was ripped off for 4 delegates. HELLLLLLO Hillary! There is NO way you can’t catch up. You can have the 4 delegates, Why are you making yourself look more foolish? The 4 delegates won’t get you back on top or even within fieldgoal range! Please, own up with some grace and class instead of flaunting your ego and desparation. She doesnt appear “tough” to me, in my opinion she looks sad and desperate. Qualities to get my confidence and vote. The windown is closing, you can hold your head up high, or hang by your fingertips showing you’ve really lost touch.

June 3, 2008 at 11:47 am
(3) uspolitics says:

Hi, Shannon:

I don’t think the voters and leadership in FL or MI ever “accepted the rules at their face value.”

The Republicans made their decision to seat half the delegates on 8 November 2007, at the same time that they decided to penalize the state for the early primary. Thus, there was never a boatload of controversy.

June 3, 2008 at 11:51 am
(4) uspolitics says:

Hi, Starrdo:

Obama is winning this election only by a nose, when we look at the elected delegates. Talking trash about the person who is coming in an extremely close second does nothing to help party unity. Having less than 52% of the vote is not a mandate.

The Republicans are the folks Democrats are supposed to oppose (although I have the exact same response if your comments were about McCain — how can such rhetoric bring this country back together?).

There’s no place in my world for rhetoric that is this vitriolic.

June 3, 2008 at 11:42 pm
(5) Miles Teg says:

Someone needs to break the news to Hillary and her die hard supporters that the race is over and Obama won. I just read it in the New York Times, so it must be true.

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