Monday, December 10, 2007

Florida Primary

They won't seat our delegates? Our votes won't count? Hogwash!

Yes, the DNC has every right to enforce its rules. The outcome of the Nelson lawsuit is of no surprise to me and I expect the Ausman lawsuit to meet a similar fate.

What everyone seems to be missing is how the primary process actually works. Sure, the rules committee has stripped Florida of its delegates, for now, but they don't have the final say in this matter.

Primary Timeline:

January - June: Caucuses and Primaries

February: Super Tuesday

February/March: Democratic Nominee is Known

The Nominee selects the majority of people who serve on the Convention Credentials Committee - the group that decides on things like the seating of delegates. Do you honestly think the nominee for the general election is going instruct their people not to seat Florida?

July/August: Democratic Convention (August 25-28 this year)

At the convention, the voting by the delegates is perfunctory as the person who won a majority is already known. In order to show party unity, there's usually some bargaining to ensure that virtually all the delegates vote for the nominee. It's essentially a ceremonial event.

For the last 30+ years - this is how its worked.

The only way it would work any differently is if it wasn't clear who had the majority of votes going into the convention, in which case there would be a brokered convention where candidates would likely be fighting over us.

Our delegates, both now and in the past, are selected and seated after we know who the nominee is going to be.

The difference between this year and how things worked in the past is that we get to vote before the nominee is known (January) instead of afterwards (March). How we vote will influence all the states that follow us. Political pundits in the media won't be able to help themselves from talking about it.

As for the seating of our delegates, you don't have to take my word for it.

From a December 1, 2007 article by the Associated Press:

Former DNC Chairman Don Fowler, a member of the rules panel, said stripping the delegates from Michigan and Florida — and prohibiting candidates from campaigning there during the primaries — will hurt party-building efforts in those states.

Fowler also said that stripping the delegates was unnecessary, since many party insiders believe that the eventual nominee will have them restored at the convention.

"No one at this table believes that the delegates from Florida and Michigan will be absent from the convention," Fowler told the rules panel.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement: "The threat not to seat the delegates of Michigan and Florida at the Democratic convention is a hollow threat. They will be seated, and when they are, it will be plain for all to see that the privileged position that New Hampshire and Iowa have extracted through threats and pledges from candidates is on its last legs."

Under convention rules, a credentials committee controlled by the presidential candidate with the most delegates will verify the legitimacy of delegates.

Back in October I quoted from a St. Pete Times article where Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chair Howard Dean made similar statements:

... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a round-table discussion with reporters in Washington that the Democratic National Committee can try to enforce its rules, but the party's authority essentially ends when the convention begins.

"The reality is if you want to know if Florida is going to be seated, ask the Democratic nominee as soon as one emerges," Pelosi said.

Dean agreed.

"At the end of the day, the nominee will make a decision, essentially about who gets seated," Dean agreed.

So there you have it.