Showing posts with label Howard Dean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Howard Dean. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Howard Dean: Right on Rules, Wrong on History

Former Vermont governor, presidential candidate and DNC chair, Howard Dean has an interesting op/ed online at the Washington Post. Basically, he is making the same arguments FHQ has been making since 2009 and 2010: That the delegate selection rules and penalties put in place by the Republican National Committee for the 2012 cycle were not sufficient to prevent the type of calendar positioning used by states  in 2008.  Said Dean:
But states do not have the legal right to change the national party’s rules. If the national parties are willing to use their power to protect the integrity of the process, they can force states into compliance. The Republican Party seems unwilling to do so. Its first mistake happened months ago, when it decided that states that move their primaries would lose 50 percent, rather than 100 percent, of their delegates. Under the current system, for example, even if Florida violates the rules and loses half its 198 delegates, it would still have more than New Hampshire (23) and Iowa (28) combined. As a candidate, if you think you can win Florida, there is no reason not to encourage the state to move its date.
As the RNC considers its options, it should remember that while states are under no obligation to pay for the nominating contests set by the national parties, the parties are under no obligation to recognize the results from states that have violated the rules. To preserve the agreed-upon system in this cycle, the RNC must show it is prepared to enforce the rules, and to consider additional sanctions if necessary.
Dean's right. He is correct that the lack of changes to the RNC rules have led to the Arizona mess, the Florida problem and the Nevada-New Hampshire dispute. FHQ also agrees with the former governor that the best way to keep states in line is to remove the carrot that entices states into moving in the first place: candidate and media attention (and the benefits that go along with that). By crafting and enforcing tough rules and penalties on violating states and by punishing candidates who campaign in those states, a national party would be on firm footing to deal with the "rogue" problem. Again, this is something that FHQ has recently argued in favor of.

In all fairness, particularly to the RNC, though, Dean has partially revised history here. The Democratic Party did not have a rule to strip a state of 100% of its delegates for violation of the timing rules during the 2008 cycle. Rule 20.C.1.a from the delegate selection rules that bear the former party chairman's name says:

Violation of timing: In the event the Delegate Selection Plan of a state partyprovides or permits a meeting, caucus, convention or primary which constitutesthe first determining stage in the presidential nominating process to be held priorto or after the dates for the state as provided in Rule 11 of these rules, or in theevent a state holds such a meeting, caucus, convention or primary prior to or aftersuch dates, the number of pledged delegates elected in each category allocated to the state pursuant to the Call for the National Convention shall be reduced byfifty (50%) percent, and the number of alternates shall also be reduced by fifty(50%) percent. In addition, none of the members of the Democratic NationalCommittee and no other unpledged delegate allocated pursuant to Rule 8.A. fromthat state shall be permitted to vote as members of the state’s delegation. Indetermining the actual number of delegates or alternates by which the state’sdelegation is to be reduced, any fraction below .5 shall be rounded down to thenearest whole number, and any fraction of .5 or greater shall be rounded up to thenext nearest whole number.
Yes, the DNC rules called for the same 50% penalty for which both the RNC and DNC rules for 2012 call. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee in the late summer of 2007 decided to make an example of Florida and increase the 50% penalty to 100%. That same penalty was imposed on Michigan when it did not heed the party's warning. 

Dean also forgets how all of this played out in 2008. The same Rules and Bylaws Committee later gave Florida and Michigan both half of their delegates back in a meeting the weekend prior to the last round of primaries in early June. And then the party seated the full delegations from both states at the Denver convention later in the summer. 

Howard Dean is absolutely right about the type of penalties and enforcement necessary to correct this quadrennial issue, but he in no way does his argument any service by claiming that the Democratic Party did not do in 2008 exactly what he claims the RNC is now doing. Both parties are guilty of caving into the states and it would benefit both to work together to craft a plan and enforcement mechanism that would help the two national parties present a unified front against any would-be rogue states in the future.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Credentials Committee and "The Dean 25"

Depending on how the next handful of nominating contests go for the Democrats, the Florida/Michigan situation may once again be resurrected (In fact, Michigan Dems are going ahead with their delegate selection process despite the DNC sanctions.) and prove crucial to the outcome of the party's nomination race. In the UGA Campaign Discussion Group on Wednesday, the issue of the Credentials Committee and its role in deciding the fate of those delegates from Florida and Michigan was raised. This 186 member group is comprised of 1) party members from the states based on each state's primary or caucus results (not clear whether the results are from this cycle or from the past) and 2) party members appointed by the chairman of the party. There are 161 of the former and 25 members appointed by DNC chairman, Howard Dean. This committee is a completely separate entity from the Rules and Bylaws Committee that opted to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates for violating the contest scheduling rules in their delegate selection plans. The "make an example of them" approach may not be felt as intensely in the Credentials Committee as it was in the Rules Committee. However, "the Dean 25" (as Avi Zenilman of Politico is calling them) may have something to say about that.

The question though, is, are these appointees in lock step with the positions Howard Dean has taken on the Florida and Michigan question. One thing that the Politico analysis fails to examine directly is when these appointments were made. They do come to the conclusion that these Credentials members may not be beholden to what Dean wants. But if these appointments were made when he became chairman in 2005, there's no way this was even an issue in the appointment decisions. Like everyone else then, these folks are faced with having to choose between Clinton and Obama. And just like in the primaries and caucuses and just like with the superdelegates, there is a pretty even split in who members of the Credentials Committee appear to backing. Based on the "hints" information in the Politico piece, eight support Clinton, eleven favor Obama, five are neutral and one has donated to both and favors the 50 state strategy under which Dean has the party operating. Obama then, has a slight edge with five or six members holding all the power. Even if that 50 state strategy backer opts for Obama (And as FHQ has speculated, Obama puts more states in play on the electoral college landscape than Clinton, with the result of promoting the strategy more effectively.), the Illinois senator only has 12 of the 25 members of the committee in his corner. The other five would all have to break for Clinton though to give her an edge.

Is that good news for Florida and Michigan? Probably not. But it won't necessarily be because of the Credentials Committee bowing to Dean's desires on the matter.

I still feel like the party will quietly punish Florida and Michigan, but will ultimately strip half their delegations as called for in the original rules for 2008 delegate selection. But that will only be "quiet" if Florida and Michigan are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things in this nomination race. However, predictions are made to be broken in this primary season. So don't hold me to that.