Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who will decide if there are Michigan and Florida do-overs?

Last night, members of the Michigan and Florida congressional delegations met to strategize about potential do-over primaries and caucuses in their states. But DNC members and state party leaders - not members of Congress - will ultimately decide if, how, and when Michigan and Florida will hold new delegate selection contests. The governors of both states have already indicated that if there are new primaries or caucuses, they will be funded privately by the state and/or national parties.

If the state parties decide to hold new contests, they would need to get approval from the DNC. According to the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee has jurisdiction over all state delegate selection plans.
Rule 19 E states: "The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee shall retain jurisdiction over the approval of amendments to state Delegate Selection Plans and state delegation compliance with equal division requirements, even after the Convention Credentials Committee assumes jurisdiction over challenges to the credentials of delegates."

Since leaders in Michigan and Florida are talking about staging new delegate selection events (probably caucuses), these could be viewed as "amendments" to the original Michigan and Florida delegate selection plans, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the RBC. Right now, no one seems to be talking about challenging the credentials of the Michigan and Florida delegates, since the DNC does not currently recognize any delegates from Michigan or Florida. A challenge to the state delegations would fall under the jurisdiction of the convention credentials committee. But staging new caucuses in Florida and Michigan seems to pretty clearly fall under the jurisdiction of the RBC. Coincidentally (or maybe not), the co-chairs of the Rules and Bylaws Committee are James Roosevelt Jr. and Alexis Herman, who are also two of the three chairs of the Credentials Committee.

The members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee are all DNC members, and therefore all unpledged "super" delegates. Harold Ickes, a top Clinton advisor, is a member of the Committee.

Since we are starting to hear more about the Credentials Committee, I'll say a few words about the convention committees in general. The
Democratic National Convention is governed by three committees: Credentials, Platform, and Rules. Each committee has 186 members, 161 of whom are chosen by each state's delegates. The remaining 25 members of each committee are reserved for "Party Leaders and Elected Officials" (called "PLEOs"). These PLEO members were appointed by DNC Chairman Howard Dean in January 2008, along with three chairs for each committee.

The DNC has put together a list of names and short bios of chairs and PLEO members of the standing committees.

For links to the DNC rules and a list of RBC members, please visit the CCPS Party Conventions Research Page.

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