Dems Debate Delegate Seating

This story was written by Emily Barton, Michigan Daily
With presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton neck and neck in the delegate count, the Democratic National Committee has suggested that Michigan hold a caucus to ensure that the state's 128 delegates would be seated at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Such a move would void the Michigan primary, which Clinton won Jan. 15.

After Michigan went against party rules by moving its primary to Feb. 5 - a move designed to garner more attention in the nominating process - the Democratic National Party stripped the state of all its delegates.

Obama and many other candidates took their names off the ballot to protest Michigan's decision to move its primary ahead of other states without permission.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said he does not support holding another contest and hopes to negotiate with Clinton and Obama as well as the DNC to find a solution and seat the delegates.

Clinton has pushed for the delegates to be seated without a new election.

Obama's campaign said that view undermines the role of voters - or non-voters - who didn't know the primary results would count.

"The Clinton campaign just said they have two options for trying to win the nomination: attempt to have superdelegates overturn the will of the Democratic voters or change the rules they agreed to at the eleventh hour in order to seat nonexistent delegates from Florida and Michigan," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager.

If all the delegates are seated, 73 would be committed to Clinton and 55 would be uncommitted, meaning the delegates will not have pledged their support to any particular candidate.

LSA sophomore Kelly Bernero, chair of Students for Hillary, said she thinks the delegates should be seated without any negotiations.

She said Michigan voters had an opportunity to vote, and they made their opinion known even without the promise of delegates.

LSA sophomore Tom Duvall, chair of Students for Obama, disagreed.

He said because voters were told from the beginning that their votes wouldn't count, seating the delegates now would be unfair. He said the result of the primary is not an accurate portrayal of the will of state voters because there was such a low voter turnout.

Duvall said a new caucus - or a negotiation with the national party to split the delegates between the candidates - would be a better way to seat Michigan's delegates.

"I hope a compromise can be worked out soon," he said.

Bernero said she disagreed with the idea that the allocation of Michigan's delegates is unfair. She said it was each candidate's decision whether to be included on the ballot, and that Obama chose to pull his name from it.

"Obama took his name off the ballot, obviously he would not be pleased, but that was his choice," she said. "People really knew. I really don't think that's a valid argument."

LSA junior Jonathon Kendall, chair of Voice Your Vote, a non-partisan organization, said he thinks another election would inspire more people to vote.

"It would be really good for Michigan and for the democratic process in general," he said.

The Republican National Committee chose to strip the state of half its delegates. Of Michgan's 30 delegates, 23 were allocated to former candidate Mitt Romney.

After Romney resigned from the race on Feb. 7, those delegates became uncommitted.

Eighteen of those delegates have pledged support to presumptive Republican Party nominee John McCain.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
© 2008 Michigan Daily via U-WIRE
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