January 10th, 2008
11:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Unexpected wrinkle for Clinton in Michigan

Clinton is the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

Clinton is the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic leaders in Michigan are urging supporters of John Edwards and Barack Obama, who are not on the ballot in the state, to vote “uncommitted” in the January 15 primary – a move that could create an unexpected headache for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Clinton is the only major presidential candidate who did not pull her name from the Michigan ballot after the national party penalized the state for scheduling the vote in mid-January, rather than later in the cycle.

The national party voted to strip Michigan of delegates as a penalty, but party leaders in the electoral-vote rich state have expressed confidence that they will be seated at the convention.

None of the candidates, including Clinton, will be campaigning here, and none have authorized write-in campaigns – which means that, under state law, their supporters cannot cast write-in votes for any of them.

But if at least 15 percent of the voters in a congressional district opt for the “uncommitted” option rather than voting for Clinton, delegates not bound to any candidate could attend the national convention – a development that could allow Edwards or Obama supporters to play a role in candidate selection there.

In this cycle, more than in recent campaigns, the delegate count may prove important. Narrow losses – which still add to a candidate’s delegate total – could keep more than one presidential hopeful in contention. “For the first time since 1988, this is a delegate race,” Clinton aide Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday.

A new group, Detroiters for Uncommitted Voters, is launching a grassroots campaign to promote the “uncommitted” option. The Detroit News reported Thursday that Democratic Rep. John Conyers and his wife, Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, said they will launch ads calling for "uncommitted" votes if there is no other way to register support for Barack Obama.

The option is also being endorsed by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, and the state’s Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer as a way for Democrats who do not support Clinton to participate in the vote.

Neither man has endorsed a presidential candidate.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. James

    Do people not think it is disturbing that if Hillary were elected two families (the Bushs' and Clintons') would have controlled the whitehouse from 1988 until at least 2012? Has this ever happened in a modern western democracy? Seems to show something is fundementally wrong with the political process.

    January 10, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Erik

    Senator Clinton's name is still on the Michigan ballot because her staff ordered her removal after the deadline. The Edwards and Obama camps removed their names just a few days earlier.

    Senator Clinton did not make the decision to stay on the ballot. Anyone that says that she is just trying to grab delegates is relying on revisionist history.

    January 10, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    "Every vote should count............"

    Unless you live in Michigan

    January 10, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Cathy

    Actually, it's NOT okay to say "women stick together!"

    It sets back feminism decades to the days when women were still burning bras and going Amazonian.

    We live, officially, in a society of equals. A person's credentials, their stance on the issues, and their ability to lead, to unite, and to inspire, are far more important than their gender or their race. Hillary's got the creds, but she lacks the leadership mantle. She can't borrow that from Bill no matter how much he campaigns for her. Only Obama can stand up for all of America, not just the rich white dynastic aristocracy to which the Clintons so firmly belong.

    Saying WOMEN FOR HILLARY '08

    is just as bad as me saying


    See? Calling out one group based on genetics is just silly.

    January 10, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Kris, NYC, formerly from Michigan

    THIS ISN'T RIGHT. Michigan has the right to vote as everyone else does. They shouldn't be penalized. I don't care if they moved up the date. If anyone hasn't noticed the state is falling apart by having one of the highest unemployment and foreclosures # in the nation.
    Their residences deserve a voice like every other American to vote for the candidate they choose ... NOT this "uncommitted" crap. I think it's wrong that candidates would take their name of the ballet and rob the Michigan people of the right to choose who they want!

    January 10, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Steve, St. Louis

    Enough whinning about the media. If the media reported nothing you would be saying "oh, I didn't know where they stood on this issue or that. Nobody told me."
    Separate the facts from fluff and fiction and decide.
    Go Obama!!

    January 10, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Ben, Flint, MI

    Dear FormerObamaGirl,
    If you contact any local or national Obama headquarters, someone there will be glad to help explain Sen. Obama's plans, since you have obviously missed out on them.

    January 10, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. MI

    In the current state that MI is in it really sucks that we don't get to meet the candidates and listen to them speak. I was invited to an Oboma gatherting later today but why would I go if he isn't going to be there? So I can listen to people to tell me to vote uncommited ? seems like a waste, I feel like we have been screwed. I hope the DNC realizes that come Nov they may not get the support they normally do from our great state. Good luck to them getting our Electorial Votes.

    January 10, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. joey

    republicans are laughing

    January 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Jay

    Didnt they get VOTED in though. Maybe we as voters are fundementally wrong. They won the elections didn't they. I recall that they counted the votes even though they seem to screw it up the last two elections. This is a democracy and the person with the most votes win. ( well I guess the electoral votes IE Gore over Bush). We had one person lead us for 4 election cycles. That was FDR. THen the powers that be said no more only two terms. I do believe Reagan would have went more than two even though he would have only remembered his first two. If the kennedy's would have lived they would have stayed in the white house for many years. Whats refreshing about the CLintons is that they are not billionaires. Bill started out in Arkansas and didn't have daddy's money and support to help him. Bloomburg LOOMS on the horizon they say only because he has billions of dollars. If he was an average person in a small state he wouldn't even be considered. Its called democracy James and what should we do. You cannot run if you had a family member in the white house. How about the senate and House. People stay in one seat for 30 years. Is that fair. Yes because they are voted in. I think we should have term limits in both the senate and house. But it is what it is.

    January 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Dennis

    Seems to me the DNC should have made it clear what they expect of the candidates. If they wanted nobody to run and no names on the ballot, they should have made that clear. Now, Democrats in Michigan face two possibilities: 1) their candidate isn't on the ballot and they can't vote for him; or 2) their candidate is on the ballot, and even if they vote for her, the vote won't mean anything as the delegate may not be seated.

    Its too bad a solution can't be reached where the primary gets rescheduled, all the candidates still in the race get their name on the ballot, and then everyone can have their vote count whehter it is for Edwards, Clinton, or Obama.

    January 10, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. David

    "Do people not think it is disturbing that if Hillary were elected two families (the Bushs' and Clintons') would have controlled the whitehouse from 1988 until at least 2012? Has this ever happened in a modern western democracy?

    Yes, actually, in America. The Roosevelts controlled the White House from 1933-1945. Before that, they also controlled the White House from 1901-1909.

    I honestly don't find it any more disturbing that coming from a political family likely gives you political talent and experience. I am, however, disturbed that this country voted George W. Bush into office twice.

    January 10, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. byrdlegs

    The GOPERS are so concerned about the DEM party and candidates. Perhaps they should worry about their own party, as like get a decent candidate. And for all the news media that doesnt like Hillary, keep on bashing her so she rises in the polls and wins state elections. You blew the N.H polls by your idiotic behavior, now maybe you can screw up the remaining elections and caususes as well.


    January 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Ben Thayer

    The Democratic Party needs to put all of its resources and energy behind Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has been tested and has the driving passion to be a great President. Its about time America elects a women President of the United States. I truly believe she has the capacity to take on the Republican establishment and get some wonderful things done. So lets do this now. Lets show the world that we truly stand behind our thirst for change. By changing the face of the Presidency with a smart, energetic, passionate, hard working, and devoted leader. Let's nominate Senator Rodham Clinton now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Well Seasoned

    That Senator Obama and Mr. Edwards have allowed themselves to be schnookered by Senator Clinton in Michigan speaks volumes to their capability (or lack thereof) to occupy the Oval Office. As they sit on their thumbs, you can bet Senator Clinton's folks are working Michigan overtime.

    January 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. SBin KC

    I strongly agree with the messages from those telling the media to get out of this race and keep your biased opinions off the air and cyber space. I am tired of hearing all of you talking like you know what is going to happen and how. Since when is it your job as newspeople to predict and dictate politics in America.?

    January 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. John

    John Edwards is just mad because his siding with Obama at last Saturday nights debate backfired on him. He thought that if he sided with Obama he would help put Hillary out of the race. Well, it almost put him out of the race.

    Try again John Edwards. Your are driving voters to vote for Hillary. Thanks for helping Hillary.

    January 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. BobW

    FormerObamaGirl wrote "Oh, and can someone please tell me exactly what Obama's plan for "change" is? I don't think anyone has ever asked him that. And he has certainly never offered it."

    I suppose it requires you to be able to read and listen effectively which is why you don't know what the plan is. Do you need to be spoon fed information? Try going to Obama's website for a starter. Then you can spend a little time studying Obama's legislative record, reading some of his speeches and if all else fails, have someone read this material to you.

    Give me a break. FormerObamaGirl....more like NeverwasanObamagirlbutreallyaHillarysupporter.

    January 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Kuhlman, Portland OR

    It is unacceptable for the State of Michigan not to have their votes counted, and I am very distressed at both Parties for shunting a state for wanting to count their votes when they want. I am also upset at my state for basically being last in the voting by the time we get to vote the nominee will already be selected. I am glad Michigan took steps to make their votes count.

    January 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Steve, TN

    Obama blows hot air. Change sounds great. But PLANS are what actually get done. Change is not a plan.

    It's like your New Year's Resolution. You say you'll change, but never make plans. That has always worked well, right?

    Politics is not different. You just have to use your head. I know it sounds scary, but try thinking for yourself. We shouldn’t have to set up a tax supported government program to help you Dems think. Although, it might not be a bad idea………….

    January 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. Dean

    Excuse me DNC, but who in Michigan elected you to run their elections ?

    This is unfortunately another power grab by unelected officials. Michigan has every right to hold their primary whenver they decide. That is democracy. Being ordered around by unelected officials is not.

    Shame on the DNC (and the RNC) for trying to interfere in a democratic process.

    The stranglehold the two parties have on elections is egregious, and is a disgrace to America. Kudos to Hillary for ignoring the strongarm tactics of self-interested unelected party apparatchiks.

    January 10, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Bryan

    What I find amazing is that the National Democratic Party can dictate when the voters in Michigan can exercise their right to vote! I certainly hope the whole state thumbs their collective noses at the national party bosses and votes for anyone - even Republicans if necessary - rather than toe the party line. What's next for Democrats in Michigan and the nation ... are you going to be told who to vote for?

    January 10, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Terri Patanus

    Hilliary is the BEST and ONLY SMART choice.

    HILLIARY 08'

    She will be the only DEMOCRAT to get my vote. I will not vote if it is the other choices.

    January 10, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. DP, Jacksonville, FL

    The situation is Michigan is the fault of the state legislature, just as it is here in Florida where I live, and not that of the individual candidates.

    This brand of "public encouragement" is the sort of divisive behavior which needs to be eliminated. It has divided the country and will divide the party.

    January 10, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Cam

    Gee, isn't everybody getting on the Hillary bashing bandwagon these days. Is this a new fad or something? Maybe people should actually read about the canidates rather than making rash decisions based on word of mouth and listening to the media, which is owned by conservative Republicans. Sorry, but I am proud that I'm not making decisions based on other peoples views, that I am swimming against the current and not just being negative because everybody else is.

    January 10, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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