Dems Rule Out Primary Do-over

This story was written by Emily Barton, Michigan Daily
The Michigan Democratic Party decided Friday not to hold a do-over primary or caucus to seat the state's delegates, instead saying it hopes to find another way to make the state's votes count in August's party convention.

The MDP released a statement saying a new primary or caucus "is not practical," but that seating the state's delegates at the Democratic National Convention is a priority.

"We will continue to work with the (committee of Michigan Democrats), the DNC and the candidates to resolve this matter in a manner which is respectful of the views of Democrats in Michigan, and which is fair to those who voted in the January 15 Democratic primary," the statement said.

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that an agreement on how to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida probably won't be reached before primary season ends in South Dakota and Montana on June 3.

The DNC stripped Michigan of its delegates after the state moved the date of its primary before Feb. 5, violating party rules.

The leading democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in the state, and all but Sen. Hillary Clinton removed their names from the ballot.

A committee of Michigan Democrats including Sen. Carl Levin, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, DNC member Debbie Dingell and United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger agreed last month to push for a primary or caucus as the best way to seat the state's delegates. They proposed a primary election for June 3, but state legislators failed to approve a bill before they left for their spring recess March 20.

According to DNC rules, a new primary must be held before June 10 to give voters at least 60 days notice before an election.

The DNC and the committee released a statement on Friday saying they will work to seat Michigan's delegates in August.

"While there may be differences of opinion in how we get there, we will continue to work together to ensure that a Michigan delegation is seated and that the logistics are in place for a Michigan delegation in Denver," the statement said.

At a dinner in Detroit's Cobo Center last night, Levin promised to find a fair way to seat the delegates at the convention.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the dinner's keynote speaker, said his state's delegates won't go to the convention in August if Michigan's delegates aren't seated. Montana will hold its primary election on June 3.

Clinton's campaign has been pushing for a new primary or caucus, but Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has been hesitant to approve a do-over election.

Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, issued a statement Friday asking that the Jan. 15 primary results be considered. Clinton, the only leading candidate to leave her name on the ballot in January's primary, won 55 percent of the vote. Forty percent voted uncommitted.

"Already, over 100,000 people have signed our petition calling on the DNC to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida," Singer said. "We urge Senator Obama to join our efforts to ensure that the votes of the people of Michigan and Florida are counted."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the delegates should instead be split evenly between the candidates.

"A 50-50 split of the delegates is an eminently fair solution, especially since originally Sen. Clinton herself said the Michigan primary wouldn't 'count for anything.' It's now up to the Clinton campaign: They can agree to a fair resolution or they can continue trying to score political points and change the rules," Plouffe said.

University of Michigan sophomore Tom Duvall, chair of Students for Obama, said he was disappointed there won't be a primary in Michigan but wasn't surprised by the decision.

"As a Michigan resient, it's obviously disappointing that we wouldn't be able to have a primary that would actually count," he said. "There was never a real nominating contest."

Duvall said he thinks the best course of action would be to split the delegates evenly between Obama and Clinton. He said voter turnout was too low in the Jan. 15 primary to justify seating the delegates based on those results.

"It's not really a true reflection of what the voters in the state would say," he said.

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