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The Florida/Michigan Soap Opera Continues

by @ 1:26 pm on March 10, 2008. Filed under 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Politics

MSNBC reports today that the idea of a mail-in primary is gaining ground in Florida:

WASHINGTON – A consensus began to emerge Sunday that the best way to give Florida’s Democrats a voice in electing a candidate for president lies with the U.S. Postal Service.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean said a mail-in primary is “actually a very good process.”

“Every voter gets a ballot in the mail,” the former Vermont governor said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It’s comprehensive, you get to vote if you’re in Iraq or in a nursing home. It’s not a bad way to do this.”

As for who pays, Dean said, “That is a problem,” reiterating that the party needs its money for the general election campaign against Republican John McCain.

He also ruled out the state of Florida, where Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has nixed the idea. Dean suggested the state Democratic party might foot the bill. Florida’s political parties, unlike the DNC, can accept unlimited contributions.

While it sounds simple, there are significant problems with the type of mail-in primary that Dean and others are suggesting:

• Would people apply for mail-in ballots, as done in the past, or would all 7 million registered voters be sent ballots?

• How would you screen out voters who cast ballots in the Republican primary on Jan. 15?

• On short notice, how could you ensure people who move get their ballots? Or that poor people, either without addresses or money for a stamp, are able to vote?

Meanwhile, two Democratic Governors who back Hillary Clinton have come up with a scheme to pay for primary re-votes in  both states:

Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania said Sunday that they would be willing to raise half the $30 million it would take to run new contests in those two states. Mr. Corzine and Mr. Rendell submitted their proposal to The Washington Post.

The two governors argue that the Democratic National Committee, and not taxpayers in Florida and Michigan, should pay for a re-election in those states.

Democrats have been struggling to find a way to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida, who were excluded when those states held primaries in January, violating national party rules.

With a virtual tie in both convention delegates and the nationwide popular vote, the dispute over the two states has the potential of deciding the overall race.

James Carville has apparently talked about doing the same thing independent of Corzine and Rendell and, if they can raise the money privately, the pressure for a re-vote will

Meanwhile, it looks like good old Al Sharpton is about to get involved in this mess:

Laying the groundwork for a court battle that could divide the Democratic Party, the Reverend Al Sharpton is threatening to sue the Democratic National Committee if it counts Florida’s primary results in the official presidential delegates tally.

Rev. Sharpton is traveling to Florida today to compile lists of residents who skipped the January contest because they thought their votes would not count. He plans to have those residents sign affidavits saying they would be disenfranchised by the seating of the Florida delegation, in the event the Democratic Party allowed that to happen.

Quite honestly, this is the kind of help that Barack Obama doesn’t really need.

Finally, the Chicago Tribune makes a strong case for leaving things the way the are and not having any re-vote at all:

Cutting favors for Michigan and Florida would cheat Democrats in all the other states who followed their national party’s rules. We hope that doesn’t happen, not because it would disadvantage Obama, but because picking presidents is serious business: People who defy rules they helped write should accept the consequences of their actions.

Hillary Clinton was correct in January: Michigan’s primary should count for nothing. Florida’s too. See you in 2012.

That’s an easy thing for an Editorial Board to say, as I noted yesterday, it seems just highly impractical to imagine that a major political party, especially the Democratic Party, will be able to conduct a National Convention when delegations from two of the 50 states are missing.

2 Responses to “The Florida/Michigan Soap Opera Continues”

  1. Clinton and Obama have been touting the fact they’ve raised tens of millions of dollars per month. Why not have their campaigns pay for the “do overs” in Michigan and Florida?

  2. James Moreau says:

    Because the Do-overs would most likely benefit Clinton (though not as much as “stealing” outright by seating Michigan& Florida as they stand, which is what she proposed), that is why her people are the one’s fundraising to pay for a re-vote. Although it is clearly something of a gamble because while she can win Florida, Obama very well might win Michigan.

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