Saturday, May 31, 2008

Live from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting - Session 2

7:10 The Michigan motion passed, 19-8. So Michigan and Florida will have full delegations, with each delegate having a one-half vote (which is what I guessed would happen in my 2:00 pm post). But what I did not expect is how quickly these votes were moved along.

The discussion went so much faster than I thought it would. I expected much more debate and a fuller airing of the pros and cons, more on the history of the fair reflection rule, more discussion of the importance of following the rules to keep order in 2012, just more. I think the interruptions from the crowd impaired the debate today. How ironic, since allowing people to attend the meeting is a democratic principle, but isn't a full debate even more important?  I think a more reasoned debate today, more discussion, more time for consensus, would have made it less likely that there will be a credentials fight at the Convention. The way this meeting ended, I don't feel confident that this is the last time we will hear about the Michigan delegates. 

7:09 The room is going crazy. If they can't maintain control at a Rules and Bylaws meeting, what is going to happen in Denver?

7:00 It has been a long day at the RBC and it seems as though people are starting to get restless and downright rude. It seems like a totally different crowd from this morning. Chairman Roosevelt keeps telling people to stop interrupting, and that their disruptions are reflecting poorly on their candidates. 

The Florida motion to restore the full delegation with 1/2 vote each passed easily. The committee is now considering a motion to restore Michigan's full delegation with 1/2 vote each (69 Clinton, 59 Obama). The big point of contention here is that the 69-59 split is based on an estimate by Michigan Democratic party officials for the Obama vote, since he was not on the ballot. And that does not reflect the "fair reflection" of presidential preference of the actual votes that were cast.  Clinton supporters want the "uncommitted" voters to stand (and be translated into uncommitted delegates) so the candidates can go back and try to persuade those uncommitted voters at a future state convention.

6:30 The meeting is (finally!) back in session. They are considering a motion to reinstate all of Florida's delegates with full voting rights.  It is highly unlikely that the committee will support this, it would be a complete reversal of their earlier decision. Maybe they just want to get on the record why Florida needs to be punished in the first place, since it did violate the rules.  Next we should expect to see a motion to seat the pledged delegates with 1/2 vote each. 

5:03 Marc Ambinder reports on his blog that committee members are behind closed doors arguing about a resolution for Michigan, and that they've already agreed to a resolution on Florida. Not surprising, given that the problems in Michigan (as I noted earlier) are so much more complicated due to the inability to accurately estimate a delegate allocation for Obama, based on the vote (since he was not on the ballot).

4:50 In my experience as a staff member to the RBC in the 2004 cycle, the chairs would not typically let a meeting go so far after the scheduled starting time, even without so many cameras anxiously waiting (Jim Roosevelt was co-chair during my tenure, and Carol Khare Fowler - still a member of the committee - was the other co-chair). My guess is that they are trying to work out some kind of consensus as to how to proceed, trying to get some agreement (perhaps from the campaign representatives) on the wording and substance of the motions that will be introduced.

4:30 We are waiting for the RBC members to take their seats after the lunch break. These people have got to be tired - their schedule started at 8:30 or so this morning, and last night they met at an informal dinner that according to some reports lasted until close to 2:00 am.

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