Recently there has been increasing discussion, sparked initially by NBC Political Director Chuck Todd, about the Clinton campaign's real motives behind pushing for a revote in Florida and Michigan. The likelihood of only modest pledged delegate gains from the two contests suggests that Clinton is, instead, aiming for the superdelegates.
Combined, Michigan and Florida have 54 superdelegates, all of whom were stripped of their status when their states were stripped of their pledged delegates. Among them, Hillary Clinton is expected to have substantially more supporters than Obama, the product of longtime friendships and her advocacy in favor of seating each delegation.
The Obama campaign should argue forcefully that these superdelegates should not be seated in Denver, regardless of what happens with revotes in the state. To be sure, the people of Florida and Michigan had no say in the decision of their states to move their primaries forward. While the original votes in January clearly cannot be counted, a revote does seem to be a reasonable remedy, and one that seems likely to be pursued.
But the superdelegates played a far different role. At the least they were complicit in allowing their states to violate DNC rules. In many cases, they were the leaders of the charge. Not only did they knowingly violate party rules for the sake of increasing their own political influence, they recklessly endangered the voting rights of millions of Democratic voters. They are responsible for the chaos in which the party now finds itself, having done so with the belief that there would be no consequences. It is essential that the national party prove them wrong.
The Clinton campaign will concede that Democrats played a central role in moving the primary up in Michigan. Democratic Senator Carl Levin, a man who has long despised New Hampshire's first-primary status, led a movement that resulted in a bipartisan bill to move the primary to January 15th. That bill was eventually signed into law by Michigan's Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.
But the Clinton campaign - and many of her supporters - have argued that Florida Democrats had no choice in the matter. In a state with a Republican controlled state legislature and a Republican governor, the Democrats, they argue, were forced to break the DNC rules, entirely against their will. It is, of course, true that the state legislature in Florida is controlled by Republicans and that Governor Charlie Crist is one too. But this argument, like so many disseminated from the Clinton campaign, is deeply deceptive.
After speculation began that Florida might consider moving its primary to January 29th, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson gushed to the Palm Beach Post about the possibility of preprimary candidate forums in Florida; he expected, according to the Post, that the "lure of the delegate-rich early Florida primary" would help convince candidates to attend. Later, when the DNC stripped Florida of its delegates, Senator Nelson took the national party to court.
The bill that would officially move the primary to January passed the State Senate with a vote of 37-2. A week later, the State House passed with bill unanimously, 118-0. In no uncertain terms, this was a bipartisan effort. Then in June, the Florida Democratic Central Committee voted unanimously to support the early primary. The elected officials and party members that make up the Florida superdelegate pool no doubt played integral roles in violating national party rules.
If revoting does take place in either state, it will occur only after the DNC Rules Committee approves a new plan. But, as Karen Thurman of the Florida Democratic Party confirmed, such a new plan will only be produced if it includes the willing participation of both candidates. Each campaign has begun to make separate demands; Clinton, for example, has already ruled out the possibility of caucuses in either state. The Obama campaign should make their own demand, and should be unbending in its insistence:
The Michigan and Florida superdelegates violated the rules of the Democratic Party. They should not be seated at the Democratic convention.