Florida and Michigan Revotes Unlikely

The hopes of Democratic Party leaders to solve the delegate impasses in Florida and Michigan have been dashed, as technicalities have proven impossible to overcome.

The AP reports that, “Facing strong opposition, Florida Democrats on Monday abandoned plans to hold a do-over presidential primary with a mail-in vote and threw the delegate dispute into the lap of the national party.”

In Florida, a frustrated Democratic Party chairwoman Karen L. Thurman sent a letter announcing the decision. “A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it’s simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the party were to pay for it,” Thurman said.”

The same situation obtains in Michigan:

To go forward, any plan also would require the approval of the two campaigns, the Democratic National Committee, state party leaders and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is backing Clinton. The contest must be held by June 10 for the results to count under DNC rules.

Voters would have to sign a statement that they hadn’t voted in the Jan. 15 GOP primary to be eligible to vote on June 3. That would effectively keep away from the polls Democratic voters — most of them non-Clinton supporters — who crossed over to vote in the GOP primary because Clinton was the only major candidate on the Democratic ballot.

The Detroit News adds:

State lawmakers looking at a Democratic presidential primary redo in Michigan appear to be locked in a standoff heading into a crucial week: Legislative leaders say the U.S. Sen. Barack Obama camp needs to agree to the repeat election before legislation is written, and Obama supporters say they must see the bill before signing off on the plan. Whether Michigan has a do-over primary in June depends on resolving that issue.

State Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, said Sunday that allies of U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are bent on a do-over primary to enable their candidate to try to pull up to Obama in the presidential race. Hunter said he won’t sign off on a repeat election unless he sees detailed legislation answering his concerns. “Clinton folks will do anything to open Michigan back up,” said Hunter, who is co-chairman of the Obama campaign in Michigan. “She is in a hunt for delegates. Why this sudden pull out all the stops to give Hillary Clinton every opportunity to try to catch up? Guess what? It’s not going to happen. This legislator is not going to facilitate it.”

Further, as Marc Ambinder reports,

The proposed primary re-vote legislation in Michigan prevents those who’ve voted in the Republican primary from voting in the re-vote.

Fair enough, right?

But about 32% of the those who vote in the GOP primary, according to the exit polls, were Democrats or independents.

It’s a fair bet that many of them were Obama supporters, as he was not on the original Michigan ballot. This could be a dealbreaker for the Obama campaign in Michigan.

The bottom line is that the states’ decision to flout party rules by holding early elections unalterably changed the dynamics of the race. There’s no way to hold a do-over at this point that wouldn’t disadvantage one of the candidates.

This is complicated by the fact that Obama is now ahead in the overall delegate count and, reasonably enough, doesn’t want to put two contests that Clinton would be favored to win back into the game at the end. Had he lost them fair and square early on — but by relatively small counts — the race might well have proceeded much as it has. But two late Clinton wins could alter the perception of the race going into the convention.

There’s simply no solution to this that would be considered “fair” by both camps. Given that, playing by the rules as previously determined — and not seating the Florida and Michigan delegations while the nomination is up for grabs — is the least bad course of action.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Daniel says:

    yeah james youre right.

    this florida and mi mess was doomed from the very moment that they moved their primaries. To re-do them would not only alter the nomination, but it would REWARD FL and MI for violating the party’s rules.

    i just now hope that Clinton and her supporters begin seeing the light and start coalescing around out nominee, Obama.

    Perhaps after tomorrows speech, Obama can begin the healing and we can all start focusing on beating McCain.

  2. Christopher says:

    What are you talking about, Daniel? Omamessiah is OVER! He is lost. I bet he won’t win another significant primary. The guy is a racist, and people (at least intelligent white people) won’t vote for a racist.

    But there is a chance. If Obamessiah would team up with OJ to find the real killer, maybe people would forgive his racists attitudes. Oh wait…OJ is in jail. Darn!

  3. legion says:

    No, Daniel’s quite correct – Howard Dean absolutely _had_ to bounce the early primaries (unless they re-vote, now, at their own expense – which ain’t gonna happen). If he hadn’t he would have had to immediately resign, because he would have exactly no authority left to enforce any rules on the party at all.

    And Christopher? With all the ‘Obamessiah’ crap you’ve been spouting all day, I think it’s time you looked at re-sizing your tinfoil hat – there’s obviously some leakage getting through…

  4. just me says:

    I am not in favor of a do over anyway. A do over seems just as unfair and rewarding as the initial punishment.

    The fact is that two states opted to violate party rules to make their votes matter more, and in the end they succeeded, even if their votes in the end aren’t going to count.

    I do think the GOP handles the Florida and Michigan situation better. By taking away half the delegates, it still allowed for those states to hold something close to a legitimate vote, and for the voters to have at least some say in the process.

    But I don’t see how a revote would be any more fair than the current situation, although I am sure Hillary is hating it, because Michigan and Florida are two states where she probably would have won, had the states not been punished.

  5. DL says:

    Politics: The only form of entertainment where half the audience applauds, while the other half cries – neither half aware that the major players are treating them all as just an audience to perform for, while they rake in the proceeds.