Monday, March 10, 2008

Clinton tries to stack deck for contest

Susan J. Demas
The Detroit News

"Saturday Night Live" is clearly in the tank for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, but so is the Michigan Democratic establishment.

That's the disingenuous backdrop to the frenzied debate over a do-over primary here. Clinton has locked up Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Gov. Jim Blanchard, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn.

In Barack Obama's camp is Rep. John Conyers, Teamster President James Hoffa and a smattering of state legislators, which means the Clintonistas hold most of the cards in the battle over a re-vote.

Michigan's $10 million primary was a bad joke. Unlike Florida, Clinton was the only major candidate on the ballot; Obama and Edwards yanked their names off as soon as the DNC erased the state's delegates for brazenly flouting party rules.

Clinton only mustered 55 percent against no one (also known as "uncommitted").

Obama has stingily hung on to his more than 100-delegate lead. That means the Clinton camp needs to reset the electoral math equation to win.

Problem is, Clinton still can't catch up unless Obama nets no delegates in some states. Enter Blanchard, who proposes "all-or-nothing" primaries in the two states in a last-ditch attempt to give Clinton electoral legitimacy.

One solution you're not hearing about is a less costly traditional caucus -- which the state party has usually held. But caucuses have favored Obama's hustle and organization.

Granholm has proposed a "firehouse primary," but it is more expensive, is open longer and is held on a Saturday.

The Clinton team is trying to stack the deck against Obama for a second Michigan contest. But Clinton risks alienating the party's most dependable voting bloc, African-Americans -- the key to carrying Michigan in November. In that case, the Clinton strategy will become a house of cards.

1 comment:

WinkleJon said...

the DNC did not demand require or even request that any candidates remove themselves from the MI ballot. When the issue of FL and MI's timing violations and the decision of the Rules and Bylaws Committee to impose the arbitrarty additional sanction of stripping ALL delegates (the rules state that the only automatic sanction is the offending state's superdelegates are not sat but the pledged delegates are sat but are reduced by 50%) there was talk that the delegates would probably be sat at some point.

Obama & Edwards took a calculated political risk by removing their names to court favor with the Iowa Democratic Party. This strategic risk did not pay off for Edwards. It paid off handsomely for Obama. The actual DNC Delegate Selection Rules put the responsibility for candidates, not the state parties nor the DNC to put their name on the ballot and keep it there. That Obama choose to remove his name to gain support in Iowa has no bearing on the legitimacy of the MI Primary.

Obama also broke the spirit and letter of the DNC's rules against campaigning in MI by telling his supporter to vote "uncommitted." Obama DID encourage his supporters to come out and vote in what he now calls a beauty contest.

The FL and MIO situation is a mess. The DNC and the Rules and Bylaws committee are just as much to blame as the respective state parties. However what is important is counting the preference of the actual rank and file Democratic voters who came out in record numbers.

Personally I think the delegates elected should be sat. Obama's games to court IA are his responsibility. Caucuses are a terrible answer as military service-members overseas, policemen, hospital workers, blue collar shift workers, the elderly, the disables and single parents without childcare are disenfranchised.

That Clinton has supporters in the state party does not game the system. Obama had the opportunity to court their support. Voters will vote as they will. Certainly more democratic than the oObama campaign's suggestion that citizens are assigned a vote and the delegates are split 50/50.