RBC Challenge: Michigan Has Been "Punished Enough"

| Sat May 31, 2008 12:24 PM EDT

Mark Brewer, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, told the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) Saturday that Michigan has been "punished enough" for violating party rules and moving its primary forward. Brewer, who is also a member of the RBC, said that the Michigan Democratic party believes that its proposed 69-59 delegate split accurately reflects Democratic voter preferences at the time of the primary. His challenge is asking the committee to allocate the delegates in accordance with its proposal.

The Michigan situation is trickier for the RBC to resolve than the Florida situation is. Neither Barack Obama nor John Edwards, who recently endorsed Obama, was on the ballot in Michigan. Instead, many Obama and Edwards supporters voted for "uncommitted." The Clinton supporters on the RBC argue that the uncommitted delegates should go to the convention as "uncommitted", meaning they would function essentially as superdelegates. The Michigan Democratic Party believe the vast majority of the uncommitted delegates should be assigned as pledged Obama delegates.

Both positions have serious flaws. The Michigan party's delegate allocation is based not just on the votes cast, but also on exit polls and the party's guesses about the names on 30,000 sealed write-in ballots. It's a sort of mishmash of the available information, and it's definitely not a normal election result. The problem with the Clinton camp's position is that the votes cast also don't represent a normal election result. It was an election that was essentially Hillary Clinton vs. Uncommitted. None of the ballots in the other primary states looked anything like that.

The Obama campaign supports a third option. In their plan, the delegates for the states would be divided equally between the two candidates, 64-64. They argue that the primary was flawed (Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who supports the Michigan Democratic Party solution, admitted as much in his testimony today). The Obama proposal says that while Michigan should still get a voice at the convention, neither candidate should get an advantage from the flawed contest.

We'll find out what the committee thinks later today.