February 19th, 2008
03:21 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Some superdelegates may be shut out

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/19/iowacaucusnight2008.jpg caption="Florida and Michigan’s superdelegates have been penalized, too."] (CNN) - The superdelegates going to the Democratic convention in Denver at the end of the summer include all the elected Democratic governors, senators, and representatives. Right? Wrong.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, is not a superdelegate. Neither are Sen. Carl Levin or congressmen John Conyers and John Dingell. The same is the case for Florida’s Democratic senator, Bill Nelson. He won’t be a superdelegate. Neither will representatives Robert Wexler or Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

That’s because Michigan and Florida moved up their primaries into January, before the February 5 Super Tuesday schedule. That broke party rules, and as a result, the Democratic Party stripped them of their pledged and unpledged delegates. The superdelegates are unpledged - meaning they can support any candidate they want.

Thus, the 795 superdelegates at the Democratic convention do not include the 28 who would have come from Michigan and the 22 who would have come from Florida. That could change only if party leaders reconsider their decision.

There is talk of organizing caucuses in both states if the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remains deadlocked going into May and June. Organizing full-scale primaries is much more difficult and much more expensive. Hillary Clinton hasn’t done well in caucuses so far.

At the same time, however, she and her supporters believe they can still win those big states. They did “win” the most votes during the January primaries even though none of the candidates could campaign there and Obama’s name wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan.

I suspect we will see caucuses in Michigan and Florida if this race remains unresolved. That is possible. The Democratic Party big shots would prefer that to a brokered convention on the floor in Denver.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: superdelegates • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    The problem I see is this: the people in charge of the two states made a terrible decision to move up their primaries. However, it is the people of the states – the ordinary voters – who had their voices silenced and their right to vote disenfranchised in an effort to make the state party bosses heel.

    Now we are discovering that we really did need those delegates that would have come about from a correctly administrated election in those states. The state's decision was wrong and the DNC's solution was nightmarishly foolish and grossly unfair to the ordinary people of those two states.

    Since Obama was not on the ballot in Michigan, obviously the results from that state cannot be counted – many people did not have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice. Under no circumstances whatsoever should this intolerable situation have been allowed in the first place.

    There is no perfect solution – multiple terrible decisions beget terrible consequences. However, when we are faced with gross inequities right and left, we are left with one question: what measure will ensure that motivated people in Michigan and Florida will have the opportunity to help select their Presidential candidate in a method that will allow them to vote for either viable choice?

    I think setting up a do-over caucus is the only viable solution. You CAN'T leave these ordinary people out of the dialogue when we need their input so badly in a race so close. You can't accept the results we've already gotten because the rules in place set during the original primary says that the primary did not count. I think we do have to honor that original rule; we are just now fixing the intolerable situation created by the foolishness of the DNC.

    February 19, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  2. Marisol

    First of all, in Michigan, voters had the option to vote for Hillary or "Uncommitted" and no one campaigned there. Obama and Edwards voluntarily removed their names from the ballots, but it was not required per the DNC.

    Secondly, in Florida, 1.7 million voters turned out for Obama, Edwards, and Hillary. And, although no one campaigned there, Obama was regularly running ads on cable, but still lost to Hillary by 300,000+ votes (Hillary had almost a million voters, while Obama had ~630,000 voters). The message is pretty clear, voters want their votes honored and their choice was Hillary. This is not complicated, but people within and outside the party are trying to control who wins.

    You can't go back in time and recreate the conditions under which voters were voting, and, on that basis, you can't have a re-election or caucus. Furthermore, caucuses tend to favor those who have the time and resources to skip out of work or other personal demands, which means that it doesn't really represent what the greater general public wants; especially those who are typically disenfranchised. That is nearly impossible in large states like FL.

    February 19, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. Earl, Chicago

    The problem is there is no fair solution.

    It is not fair that Michigan and Florida votes don't count, but the states broke the rules so it would not be fair to change the rules and count their delegates.

    Howard Dean made the rules and the penalty for breaking the rules. Both state leaders and Mr. Dean should be held accountable.

    February 19, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. JC, Seattle

    If Hilary can't abide by what she and Barack BOTH agreed to prior to when she decided to campaign in Florida anyway then what's makes anyone so sure that she is going to abide by any rules or laws whatsoever once she get's into office? If she can't win FAIRLY by competing in an election sanctioned by her own political party and where all candidates names are on the ballot then what kind of leader would we end up with if she were elected ...another G.W.?

    February 19, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |

    Hillary Has no respect for her own words, why sign an agreement if you plain on faulting on that statement or agreement? this is a perfect example of why she is not READY ON DAY ONE! to run this country. Will she sign some thing in to law AS PRESIDENT and then say that I did not mean to sign that, or I want to take that back! Hillary new slogan is that I will do any thing and everything to win, no matter what! and this is the person that the hillary supporters want to put in office to run this country? ARE YOU CRAZY?

    February 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. Cynthia, Laguna Niguel, CA

    Why would you vote for someone who doesn't care about Florida or Michigan? If Obam does not care about those two states why then he would not care about you (The voter)!!!!

    Clinton – 08 It is time for a woman President!!!!!

    February 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. Mariann Pepitone

    Patrick Lee: In your dreams. If Obama won the nomination McCain would sweep him under the rug. Don, you think Hillary would tell her supporters to vote for McCain and that would give McCain a landslide. If Hillary wins the nomination, Obama supporters probably would vote for McCain. Obama's supporters are mostly this generations of no nothing do nothing and can'th see the light. Obama gives a good copied speech and this generation is eating up his words. What a president he would be. I am aware of the fact he is trying to be RFK but that will never be even though he practiced RFK's speeches. It was a proven fact on TV.

    February 19, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. Bryan Stewart

    I'm sorry, I meant Super Tuesday was comprised of 24 states.

    February 19, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  9. bryen

    Florida and Michigan votes should be counted, if for no other reason than because the race is too close to say we could afford not counting two states.

    There should be no re-voting. No other state gets to re-vote, why should Florida and Michigan?

    Hilary won those votes. Hilary stood up for those states and didn't falter under the rules imposed by the DNC. She spoke of them and committed herself to those states even when we knew those states would not be counted.

    The argument that Obama wasn't even on the ballot doesn't count. Obama could have kept his name on the ballot. He chose to ignore Michigan. It may cost him in the long run because he should have fought for the people of Michigan to be counted as well. He made a calculated risk and lost.

    If the Obama camp is so confident that they will wil the nomination with the help of other states, then they should go ahead and support the re-inclusion of those states. The Obama supporters are fighting against this because they know that Obama's lead would suddenly disappear if those people were counted.

    NO RE-VOTES, NO NEW PRIMARIES, NO NEW CAUCAUSES in Florida or Michigan. Let the will and wishes of those people who voted COUNT!

    February 19, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. johnny intx.

    wolf i told jack now you . none of the people running have what this country needs

    February 19, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. jimF

    Imagine if we have a caucus in Florida and the caucus chooses Obama, even though Clnton beat him by about 40% with 900,000 votes. You can't have a second ballot/vote unless it is a rubber stamp of the first one.

    So, the Democratic party is still stuck with either giving Sen. Clinton the delegates or over-ruling 2 million voters. Ugly either way.

    Re: Brett's comment. AMEN the press is clearly distorted. The real question is how much of the anti-Clinton bias is sexism and how much is personal.

    February 19, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. shawn

    Superdelegates are reminiscent of a time when The House elected Senators. When ended up with the XVII Amendment to take care of that. Lawmakers need to be elected by the people, not another group of lawmakers.

    February 19, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. shawn

    I usually vote Republican, however, this time around I will vote for Hillary or Obama, that is, unless superdelegates supercede the citizen's decision. If this happens, Democracy will have been subverted and I will never consider the Democratic party again.

    February 19, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  14. Antoine Schaefer, the netherlands

    Hello from holland,

    Anxiously awaiting the result this year. Hoping after eight long years we'll see a democrat in the white house. On this subject: why did the democratic party make it so difficult. Letting those states vote but not letting them count. In the future they should change suchs rules. A true democracy counts every vote. We've seen in Florida 2000 what can happen!

    February 19, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  15. Bob

    Let's not make a mistake: This is the Democratic Party, not the people's party.

    They get to determine who they will put up as a candidate. It is their right to decide who they want. They have modified their rules to get "advice" from the people, but they still retain the right to over-ride this advice with superdelegates.

    The people get to choose in November, at the general election. The parties get to choose at their conventions.

    February 19, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. Sharon Snider

    I think we need to look at reason, here. The Democratic Party decided that states that changed their primary dates to a time before February 5 would not have their delegates seated. Even though it was aware of this, Michigan changed its primary date anyway. And now people are upset because the delegates will not be seated. They knew the rule, they broke the rule, and now they don't want to face the consequences. The delegates should not be seated for neither Michigan nor Florida because they broke the rules. The total delegates needed for nomination should be reduced by total of the number of delegates Michigan and Florida were entitled to. That will settle this whole business of any candidate getting enough delegates to be nominated.

    February 19, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  17. brad

    Marianne – Your whole diatribe is ridiculous considering your last comment. "It was a proven fact on TV." You shouldn't believe everything you see on TV. Try actually educating yourself regarding the candidates and their positions, rather than listening to what pundits say. I'm so proud to be part of this young "do nothing," can't see the light generation, rather than your holier than thou, establishment humping, cog in the machine generation you are obviously a part of. Youre probably racist too. Dont lie.

    February 19, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  18. brad

    Marrianne- Obama supporters voting for McCain, yea and you have read a book!!! HAHAHAHAHA

    February 19, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. phyhau

    I believe that this country is headed in the worng direction. People have left God out of the school and they're even trying to get him off our money and even out of the churches. To show how unGodly the country is going speaks to the pettiness going on inside of the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton camp. Hillary Clinton is suppose to be the smarter and more experienced of the two but she is showing that she is a sore loser. If she has so much experience then show it be a winner by not focusing so much on what the other person is doing is wrong. Desparate people do desparate things. She needs to be more mature.

    February 19, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. Kathy

    The DNC erred when they chose to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates and denied the people there their right to vote. They need to acknowledge their mistake and fix it. No one has the right to take away a person's right to vote. The people living in Florida and Michigan did nothing wrong. I think the Florida results should stand because all names were on the ballot and no one campaigned. Hillary gave a thank you speech after she won, but that can not be considered campaigning because the votes were all in. I heard CNN report that the Obama camp was laughing at Hillary for making a "victory" speech. Are you trying to tell me he wouldn't have done the same thing in her position??

    February 19, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
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