Saturday DNC meeting will decide MI and FL delegate fate

This Saturday, about 30 Democratic Party officials, members of the obscure rules committee, will be meeting in Washington, DC to hash out the Florida and Michigan delegate issue.

Story from The Detroit News:

Thirty Democratic Party officials — mostly obscure party operatives — will gather in a Washington hotel conference room this weekend to consider disputed convention delegates from Michigan and Florida, the most closely watched group of people yet to weigh in on the close Democratic presidential campaign.

But many of the members of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules & Bylaws Committee say they’re focused less on Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama than on a set of rules they argue are vital to maintaining fairness and order in future elections.

The little-known panel meets Saturday to determine, for now at least, the fates of the Michigan and Florida delegations — and, by extension, the votes of nearly 600,000 Michiganians and 1.75 million Floridians who participated in Democratic primaries in January.

Clinton won both states, and both have been barred from sending delegations to this summer’s convention in Denver because their primaries were earlier than the national party allowed. Michigan and Florida have challenged the ban, and the Democratic candidates, DNC Chairman Howard Dean and the states themselves all have said they want the issue resolved so that the two states can play some role at the convention.

Clinton and Obama, who will campaign in Oakland County on Monday, have sparred over the details of a solution: Clinton wants full recognition of the January contests, but Obama seeks something short of that because of the disputed nature of the primaries, in which there was no campaigning. He voluntarily removed his name from Michigan’s ballot, but he was on Florida’s.

If there is a compromise to be had, it appears likely to include some continued penalties — either halving the state’s delegations, or giving each delegate a half-vote. An analysis by party lawyers released Wednesday suggests the panel may not be able to compromise further.

“There’s an institutional aspect to this that goes beyond what one particular group wants to see,” said Allan Katz, a committee member from Florida who nonetheless has opposed his state’s early vote.

“Regardless of what side people are on, Obama or Clinton, they have a larger perspective, and that’s the integrity of the Democratic Party,” said Mame Reiley, a Virginia political consultant and Clinton supporter who is on the panel. “And I think we’re going to approach it that way.”

Assumedly, and we know what happens when you assume, I’m betting there will be some kind of delegate split or perhaps only a certain amount of delegates awarded from each state. Apparently we’ll know on Saturday what the DNC decides, in correlation with their party rules.

The broader context of the Florida and Michigan delegate debate has been Hillary Clinton’s reasoning for staying in the race. As long as there are disputed votes and delegates, she can remain in the race fighting for every vote. Thus, if this whole thing gets sorted out on Saturday and Obama cleans up next week, she will not have these reasons to fall back on anymore.