Michigan Dems Propose Delegate Solution

DEMOCRATS IN Michigan want Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to sign on to a compromise that would allocate a net of ten delegates to Hillary Clinton. Sen. Carl Levin, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick,UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, and DNC Member Debbie Dingell outlined their proposal in a letter to Michigan's Dem chair, Mark Brewer.

The four want to allocate 69 pledged delegates to Hillary Clinton and 59 to Barack Obama. The approach splits the difference between the equal delegate proposal coming out of Chicago (g4 for each) and the 73-to-55 delegate split that the Clinton campaign would obtain from the results of the primary, with almost all of the uncommitted delegates being pledged to Obama. The four also write that they oppose the challenge by DNC member Joel Ferguson, which would give superdelegates a full vote and pledged delegates half of a vote.

THE PROPOSAL represents a climbdown of sorts for Michigan Democrats and is not likely to be well received at the Clinton campaign. DNC officials have said that, absent a deal between the two candidates, only the credentials committee can sanction a solution.

A senior Obama official said of the proposal, "we'll look into it."

The full letter is after the jump.

April 29, 2008

Mr. Mark C. Brewer
Michigan Democratic Party
606 Townsend
Lansing, MI 48933

Dear Chairman Brewer:

As you know, the four of us have been working to resolve the current impasse between our state and the Democratic National Committee created by the DNC’s selective enforcement of its calendar rules in granting New Hampshire a waiver to those rules while denying the Michigan Democratic Party’s similar request for a waiver to select our delegates based on the results of the upcoming primary scheduled by the Michigan Legislature on January 15.

None of us have endorsed a presidential candidate. Our focus is to ensure that Michigan’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in August is seated with full voting rights, and that the nominating process is reformed for future elections.

Over the past several months, we looked at a number of options to “redo” Michigan’s primary vote. We considered a privately-funded state-run primary; a party-run primary; and even a vote-by-mail primary. We had extensive discussions with the Clinton and Obama campaign organizations and with the DNC staff in the course of considering these options. Unfortunately, for differing reasons, none of the “redo” options that we considered proved to be feasible.

Recently, our District conventions began the process of selecting our 128 pledged delegates based on the results of the January 15 primary, with Senator Clinton receiving 73 pledged delegates and “Uncommitted” receiving 55 pledged delegates. We understand that almost all of the Uncommitted delegates selected to date are in fact pledged to Senator Obama.

The Clinton campaign has taken the position that the results of the January 15 primary should be honored and that Senator Clinton should receive 73 pledged delegates in accordance with the vote she received. The Obama campaign has taken the position that the January 15 primary results should be ignored and that the 128 pledged delegates should be seated but evenly divided between the two candidates.

Both candidates have a basis for their argument. The January 15 primary result was flawed because Senator Obama’s name was not on the ballot. He took his name off the ballot, interpreting the DNC injunction and the New Hampshire pledge against campaigning in Michigan to require him to take that affirmative step. As a result, we cannot totally agree with the Clinton campaign’s position that the outcome of the primary should be honored and that the pledged delegates should be apportioned 73/55 (Clinton/Obama).

At the same time, we also cannot accept the position of the Obama campaign that the primary should be totally ignored and the pledged delegates should be evenly apportioned 64/64 between the two candidates, given the fact that almost 600,000 Democrats voted in the January 15 primary, 55% of whom voted for Senator Clinton and 45% of whom voted for Uncommitted or other candidates.

In recent weeks we contacted both campaign organizations to see if we could negotiate a compromise that would be acceptable to both candidates. While we have not yet been able to achieve that goal, we cannot allow this deadlock to continue with its negative impact on the ability of our nominee to carry Michigan in November, and indeed to win the election.

As a result, we recommend that the Michigan Democratic Party request the DNC to seat Michigan’s delegates, and that the pledged delegates be apportioned 69 to Senator Clinton and 59 to Senator Obama. That approach splits the difference between the 73/55 position of the Clinton campaign and the 64/64 position of the Obama campaign, based on our belief that both sides have fair arguments about the Michigan primary. While we expect that neither candidate will explicitly embrace this approach, we believe that the DNC should adopt it and both candidates should accept it because it is fair and because it would resolve an impasse that with each passing day hurts our chances of carrying Michigan and winning the Presidency.

We also believe that the DNC must exercise the leadership to resolve this impasse and not allow it to fester any longer. We urge you to seek the approval of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Democratic Party for this proposal and forward it promptly to the DNC for their consideration.

We also want to express our opposition to the challenge filed by DNC Member Joel Ferguson with the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee regarding Michigan’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Mr. Fergusons’s proposed remedy – seating Michigan’s so-called super-delegates with a full vote, and seating Michigan’s pledged delegates with a half vote – is unacceptable to us on two grounds. First, we cannot agree to a remedy that allows for super-delegates who didn’t run for the position to have a full vote, while pledged delegates selected by the voters have only half a vote.

Second, we see no justification for seating Michigan’s delegates with anything less than full voting rights. If Michigan is punished for fighting the DNC’s decision to grant New Hampshire a waiver, it will hurt the Party’s chances of carrying Michigan in November. We will communicate these views to the Rules and Bylaws Committee and request that you ask the Executive Committee of the Michigan Democratic Party to take a similar position.


Senator Carl Levin
Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger
DNC Member Debbie Dingell

cc: Governor Jennifer Granholm