Over the past few days I have received several emails and calls inquiring about the situation with the delegates to the National Convention from Florida and Michigan. I wanted to take just a moment and provide some historical background to the situation for you. As always, if there are any questions after this, please do not hesitate to contact me and let me know.
I will start at the very beginning. Every four years, the Democratic National Committee establishes the calendar for the upcoming nominating period. This calendar decides when states will be allowed to hold their primaries and caucuses. A part of this calendar is known as the pre-window, which is a period of time in which only a select number of states are able to hold their primary or caucus. This pre-window had traditionally only allowed for Iowa and New Hampshire, but was extended this year to add Nevada and South Carolina in order provide more diversity into the early part of the process. For the 2008 cycle, the first date every other state was allowed to hold their primaries or caucuses was February 5. This date became dubbed "Super Tuesday" because every state wanted to be as early as possible, so over 20 states jumped forward to the first eligible date.
This is where Florida and Michigan enter the picture. Each state is required to submit a plan to the DNC announcing when its event will take place. Michigan submitted a plan that would have their event on January 15 and Florida submitted a plan that would have their primary on January 29. Both of these dates violated the DNC Call to the Convention and the Regulations of the National Convention as the first date they could hold their primaries was February 5.
The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee reviewed the delegate selection plans submitted by Florida and Michigan and found them in non-compliance with the Convention Rules. As such, each state party was given thirty (30) days to submit a modified plan with a date in compliance. Neither state party was willing to move the date of the primary, because they wanted to have an early say in the primary process. As such, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to find their plan in non-compliance and as such they were told their delegates would not be seated at the national convention.
However, this was not the end of the DNC's attempt to work with Florida and Michigan to help get them seated at the Convention. The DNC had originally given each state those 30 days to make amends to their plan and the states refused. After that point, the DNC had been willing to work with each state to hold a new nominating contest, either a new primary or caucus. By doing so, the delegations from those states would be seated in Denver. However, neither state party agreed to do this and instead asked to be seated at the convention based on the original results.
Where are we now? Well, all states must complete their primaries and caucuses by June 21. Realistically, it is impossible for either state to put together a new plan in time that will be in compliance with DNC rules. So as stands, the delegations from those two states will not be seated at the National Convention. There is currently an appeal pending before the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee that will ask the DNC to seat 50% of the delegates from each of those states, as well as the state's superdelegates. I am unsure at this time what the decision of the Rules and Bylaws Committee will be. They meet on May 31 and I will certainly provide you with information following their decision. Whatever is decided can then be appealed to the Convention's Credentials Committee and ultimately all the delegates at the National Convention in August.
Those are the facts, as unbiased as I can present them to you. I just wanted to take a moment to make sure that you were all aware of what was going on, because in the next few weeks, we are certain to hear many more arguments regarding Florida and Michigan. I will add two personal opinions. One, it is important for us to find some way to work with those state parties because they are crucial states for Democrats to win in November. However, I am fearful that seating the delegates based on primaries held in violation of the DNC rules would only open the floodgates in 2012 and allow every state to jump before the first eligible date with the excuse "Florida got away with it, why can't we?" Its a two way street and I am eager for the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to hear this case and move forward.
Regardless of the outcome, I will keep you all up to date on what is happening. Thank you for your emails and calls on this issue. I hope you have a fantastic weekend! Hopefully summer is on its way!
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Jason R. Rae
DNC Member - WI
Explanation of Florida & Michigan Situation
From Jason Rae - a good explanation of the situation