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« FL's Case: Blame The GOP | Blog Home Page | Ickes And "Fair Reflection" »

MI's Case: Electability, History

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, himself a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, relied heavily on the importance of the state's electoral votes to a Democratic candidate's chances in November. Acknowledging their case is weaker than Florida's, especially given that a Democratic governor signed the legislation, Brewer still asked the committee to reseat all of the state's 128 convention delegates. That re-establishment of full voting rights, some committee members told Politics Nation, is unlikely.

Under a compromise plan agreed to by four prominent Democrats in the state -- Senator Carl Levin, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, DNC member Debbie Dingell and United Auto Workers chief Ron Gettelfinger -- Brewer asked the committee allocate 69 delegates for Hillary Clinton and 59 delegates to Barack Obama. That is a smaller number for Clinton than the 73 delegates she would have won from the January 15 primary, and a smaller number for Obama than the even 64-64 split his campaign had advocated.

"The Michigan Democratic Party has achieved unity. We're asking you to preserve it," Senator Carl Levin told committee members. "There is no scientific way to reach the conclusion that we reached. But there is a fair way."

Such a division, though, would create a problem for the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Several members questioned whether the committee even had the authority to do so, given that Michigan's appeal is based less on established rules than on political consideration. "Are you relying on any rule?" asked committee member Eric Kleinfeld, a Clinton backer. "No, but we have to do something in this situation," Brewer responded. "I wish it were more. I wish it were better. It's all we have."

Brewer faced a withering assault from Clinton supporters who questioned whether allocating uncommitted delegates to Barack Obama. Under party rules, "uncommitted" is a legitimate choice for primary voters. Obama backers on the committee suggested the assumptions made to allocate delegates severely underestimated the Illinois Senator's potential in the state.

While Florida's case has won sympathy from some committee members, given the Republican tilt of the state legislature, Michigan's move to the head of the pack is a prime reason the committee sits in a hotel ballroom on a Saturday. Introducing Levin as the "grandfather" of the revised calendar commission, committee co-chair Alexis Herman said the senator has been the "most spirited" advocate of calendar changes.

Levin, after all, has been the most vociferous agitator for a new set of calendar rules, and his efforts propelled the date change. "Michigan decided years ago that no state should have the right to go first and second in every election. No state," Levin declared. "We're not going to sit by and do nothing for another decade or two," he said later.