POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Two Governors Backing Clinton Offer To Help Raise Cash For New Elections

Two of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's biggest supporters, who are also two of the Democratic Party's most successful fund-raisers, have offered to help raise millions of dollars to stage new primaries in Florida and Michigan.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania said Sunday that they would be willing to raise half the $30 million it would take to run new contests in those two states. Mr. Corzine and Mr. Rendell submitted their proposal to The Washington Post.

The two governors argue that the Democratic National Committee, and not taxpayers in Florida and Michigan, should pay for a re-election in those states.

Democrats have been struggling to find a way to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida, who were excluded when those states held primaries in January, violating national party rules.

With a virtual tie in both convention delegates and the nationwide popular vote, the dispute over the two states has the potential of deciding the overall race.

Mrs. Clinton won in both states, though Senator Barack Obama's name did not appear on the Michigan ballot and neither candidate campaigned actively in Florida. Her supporters at first pressed for the disputed delegates to be seated, but both campaigns and Democratic Party leaders have been searching for an alternative solution.

Talk of the problem dominated the Sunday morning political television programs.

"I think it's very unlikely that Florida and Michigan, given how close this race is, are going to be seated as is," said Howard Dean, the Democratic national chairman, on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "But everybody's going to work very hard to find a compromise within the rules that's fair to both campaigns that will allow Florida and Michigan in the end to be seated."

Mr. Rendell raised the fund-raising proposal on "Meet the Press" on NBC as he pressed for re-votes in the two states. Former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, speaking for the Obama campaign, also appeared on the program and said he would go along.

"We don't have any problem with that," Mr. Daschle said.

Mr. Rendell said that, in the submission to The Washington Post, he and Mr. Corzine offered to "help raise the approximately $15 million which would be half of the $30 million it would take to run those two contests."

Asked about the proposal by WNBC-TV on Sunday, Mr. Corzine said it had not been cleared with the Obama campaign. He also said the best time for new contests, were they to happen, would be after the last scheduled primaries are held in early June.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Corzine, Deborah Howlett, later said: "He doesn't think that the states or the taxpayers in Michigan or Florida should pay for the election. And he's glad to help the D.N.C. raise money to cover the costs."

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