No Do-Over for Michigan

Lawmakers won't back a new primary

After pleas from state party leaders and strong lobbying by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michigan lawmakers adjourned Thursday without settling on a bill to authorize a do-over primary in June. In Florida, a proposal for a mail-in revote for its primary fell through earlier this week, lacking support of the party’s congressional delegates.

Both states had their delegates stripped from the Democratic National Convention for holding early primaries in January against party rules. Florida has 210 convention delegates and Michigan has 156. Clinton won the two voided primaries (Obama’s name and several other Democratic candidates names were not on the Michigan ballot; Clinton was the only major candidate on the ballot). Political analysts say that neither candidate may secure enough delegates—2,024 are needed—to clinch the nomination before the national convention. Clinton is currently trailing Obama in the delegate count—1,479 to 1,621.

With failure of redo primaries in Michigan and Florida, both states must find some new way to comply with party delegate selection rules or be locked out of the national convention in Denver this August. Obama’s campaign has said that a fair resolution would be to split the number of delegates evenly with Clinton. However, Clinton’s camp has rejected that idea but said it would be willing to consider a mail-in primary. But Obama has questioned the security of a vote by mail. The Democratic National Committee and its chairman, Howard Dean, have not offered any guidance on how to resolve this impasse.

The clash over the re-vote issue between Clinton and Obama remains heated. While campaigning in Terre Haute, Indiana, Clinton told reporters on Thursday that “I do not see how two of our largest and most significant states can be disenfranchised and left out of the process of picking our nominee without raising serious questions about the legitimacy of that nominee.” Clinton has also suggested that not having primaries now could alienate Democratic voters come the general election in November.

On Thursday following Michigan’s Senate adjournment, Obama spokesman Bill Burton released a statement, “We support a fair solution that allows Michigan Democrats to participate at our National Convention this summer, and we look forward to working with the Michigan Democratic Party and the DNC to achieve that goal.” He also said that “Sen. Obama looks forward to building a winning campaign in Michigan in the fall as our Democratic nominee.”

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