**UPDATED** March 15
Clinton Supporters Stepping Up Pressure On DNC: The New York Times reports on the latest behind-the-scenes power struggle over the Florida and Michigan primaries:
Reflecting how tense the situation has become, influential fund-raisers for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton have stepped up their behind-the-scenes pressure on national party leaders to resolve the matter, with some even threatening to withhold their donations to the Democratic National Committee unless it seats the delegates from the two states or holds new primaries there.[...]
Pushing to seat the Florida delegates, at least one top Clinton fund-raiser, Paul Cejas, a Miami businessman who has given the Democratic National Committee $63,500 since 2003, has demanded Democratic officials return his 2007 contribution of $28,500, which they have agreed to do.
"If you're not going to count my vote, I'm not going to give you my money," said Mr. Cejas, who was the United States ambassador to Belgium from 1998 to 2001.
Michigan Re-Vote A Strong Possibility: AP reports on the latest coming out of Michigan:
Michigan Democrats are close to an agreement with presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to hold a do-over primary.
Party officials and the campaigns negotiated on Thursday, and state Democratic leaders were hopeful that an agreement could be reached on Friday, said Democratic officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. To go forward, any plan would require the approval of the two campaigns, the Democratic National Committee, state party leaders and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is backing Clinton.
MSNBC confirms the possibility and has more details:
While the idea of Florica re-vote seems to be fading, there is a lot of momentum among Michigan Democrats for a June 3 re-vote, according to informed sources in the state. There are a couple of hurdles, including who would pay for the primary (100% Clinton donors or 50-50 split between Clinton and Obama donors; the preference of state Democrats). The state would pass a law that would appropriate the money to run this special primary election; not a mail-in, but a full bore in-person 100% open primary. The state, in turn, would be reimbursed by the Democratic Party or potentially other entities or even seeing if it's possible for donors to contribute to the state directly. Everyone seems to be on board in the state Democratic world of Michigan, including the governor, the Dingells, Carl Levin, the Kilpatricks and the U.A.W. For those that follow Michigan Democratic politics closely, you'll know getting all those folks in agreement isn't easy.
Florida Re-Do Unlikely: The AP is reporting that Florida's plan for a vote-by-mail primary do-over has a slim chance of actually happening:
Karen Thurman, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, offered a mail-in/in person proposal for voting and urged state leaders, the national party and the presidential candidates to sign on. Under the plan, all of Florida's 4.1 million Democrats would be mailed a ballot. They could send it back, or cast a ballot in one of 50 regional voting centers that would be set up. The election would end June 3, a week before a Democratic National Committee deadline to name delegates.
The estimated cost is $10 million to $12 million.
Asked if the plan will be implemented, Thurman said, "I have a feeling that this is probably closer to not, than yes."
The Miami Herald gives a thorough explanation of the numerous flaws the vote-by-mail plan contains:
Florida law prohibits election officials from authenticating votes cast in the Democratic Party's proposed do-over primary by mail, state officials said Thursday, a potentially fatal blow to the increasingly embattled plan.
''There's no authority under Florida law that would allow county supervisors of election or the state to verify signatures in an election of a state party,'' said Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for Florida's secretary of state and Division of Elections.
Verifying the identity of anyone who votes by mail -- either through a conventional absentee ballot or in the Florida Democrats' proposed and unprecedented statewide mailed election -- is considered a key bulwark against electoral fraud.
In addition, the plan floated Wednesday by state party chief Karen Thurman lacked a key requirement to protect the anonymity of voters -- an inner ''secrecy envelope,'' though aides said Thursday that the envelope would be included if the proposal gains momentum.
Read the plan's details here
Obama: Clinton Michigan Line "Defies Logic": Politico's Ben Smith reports on Obama's response to Hillary's claim that he competed in the Michigan primary:
Speaking to reporters on his plane today, Obama rejected the notion -- repeated by Clinton this morning on NPR -- that he competed in Michigan, because some of his supporters there urged a vote for "uncommitted."
"I saw an interview where Sen. Clinton suggested that we had competed in this race," he said. "I don't know exactly how she drew that conclusion, since I didn't step foot in Michigan and my name wasn't on the ballot, so the notion that somehow it would be fair for her to obtain significantly more delegates than me in a contest where we both agreed it wouldn't count, I wasn't on the ballot, and I didn't campaign there, just defies logic. I think you could ask my 6-year-old whether that was fair, and she would probably be able to say, 'No, that isn't.'"
Other Possible Plans For The Michigan/Florida Delegates: The Page's Mark Halperin has the following take on the delegate situation:
-Michigan's 156 delegates would be split 50-50 between Clinton and Obama.
-Florida's existing delegates would be seated at the Denver convention--but with half a vote each. That would give Clinton a net gain of about 19 elected delegates.
- The two states' superdelegates would then be able to vote in Denver, likely netting Clinton a few more delegates.
What's At Stake In A Florida Re-Vote? A Democratic Party official lists three responses to the question of "What Do We Have To Lose?" by having a new Florida vote. For example:
Undermining the ability of the DNC to insure order on the primary process. It would be quite ironic if Florida, despite having broken the rules, would get to hold a final primary that the media (and perhaps the candidates) will bill as the decisive contest to sway the superdelegates (as in, whoever can win in Florida deserves to take on John McCain in November). What incentive will this create for states in 2012 asked to abide by the Democratic party rules for the timing of primaries and caucuses?
Financing Florida Round Two: Newsweek is reporting that Florida is getting close to agreeing to a revote:
A solution to the growing controversy over Florida's disputed Democratic primary may now be in the works. Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson tells NEWSWEEK he has spoken to the Florida Democratic Party about launching a soft-money fund-raising campaign for the benefit of a new mail-in primary, which would supercede the controversial Jan. 29 vote.
Nelson, who spoke on the phone Friday afternoon as he was boarding a plane from Washington, D.C., to Jacksonville, Fla., for the weekend, was not forthcoming with specifics in terms of who will be approached for donations (as a senator, he is specifically forbidden from raising soft-money donations), or the timing of the new primary. The senator was, however, clearly frustrated over waiting for other people to fix the problem. "My job is clear," Nelson says. "It's to stand up for the right of Floridians to vote as intended."
Carl Levin: No Revote In Michigan: Sen. Carl Levin has told the Huffington Post that there will be no second vote in his state:
"Michigan Democrats have for years argued against the unfair and irrational system in which New Hampshire and Iowa almost always have a hugely disproportionate impact on our presidential nominating process," a statement from his office read. A DNC commission reviewed the system and recommended a new sequence for 2008 in which New Hampshire would hold the third nomination contest. It was only after New Hampshire indicated its intention to violate the new sequence -- and the DNC's failure to enforce its own rules in light of New Hampshire's violation of those rules -- that Michigan decided it would move up its primary to January 15. The DNC subsequently voted to strip Michigan of its convention delegates."
Levin's office expanded on the statement, saying that the senator thought there were too many "financial and logistical hurdles" for holding another primary vote. "In any event believes that a change in course would require acceptance by both candidates."
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