Democrats Explore Ways to Seat Florida and Michigan Delegates

Posted April 2, 2008 at 2:39pm

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean announced on Wednesday that the party is committed to seating Florida’s delegates at the national convention in August.

Furthermore, according to one Democratic source familiar with the negotiations, officials in both Florida and Michigan, the two states whose delegates currently don’t count, may already be leaning toward a specific process for doing just that.

One possible way forward would involve state officials appealing to the convention Credentials Committee, which, in the case of Florida, “is probably the way that this is going,” the source said.

As for Michigan, state officials “are not as divided” and appear interested in submitting a new plan for choosing their convention delegates, the source explained.

One idea floated by Michigan officials would involve voting by mail. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen,” added the source.

Florida and Michigan Democrats currently don’t have seats at the Aug. 25-28 national convention because they violated party rules and held their primaries earlier than allowed. But their delegates have become crucial in the heated battle between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), where every delegate counts.

After emerging from an hour-long meeting with the entire Florida delegation on Wednesday morning, Dean indicated that lawmakers and state officials have agreed to work together to ensure the state’s delegates are seated.

“While there may be differences of opinion in how we get there, we are all committed to ensuring that Florida’s delegation is seated in Denver,” he said in a joint statement with Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman and ex-Rep. Karen Thurman.

“We’re committed to working with both campaigns to reach a solution as soon as realistically possible,” Dean said.

The knowledgeable Democrat described the meeting as a “breakthrough” because it marked the first time that the whole Florida delegation was on “the same page with each other.”

“It was important to get everyone in the same room,” said the source, especially because there has been “much more tension” within the Florida delegation than among Michigan lawmakers.

Criticized by some party officials for not being more aggressive in trying to broker peace, Dean emphasized that any solution must comply with party rules and must be agreed to by both Democratic presidential candidates.