An electoral do-over?

Florida and Michigan

What happened

The governors of Florida and Michigan this week called on the Democratic Party to seat delegates from their states at this summer?’s presidential nominating convention. The party stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates for violating national rules and moving their primary contests earlier, but state officials say it?’s unfair to deprive their voters of a voice now that the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has turned into a tight marathon. Both states are considering new primaries or caucuses, but they want the national party to pick up the tab. “We can’t afford to do that,” said party chairman Howard Dean. “That’s not our problem. We need our money to win the presidential race.” (The Politico)

What the commentators said

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“Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have unfinished business in Florida and Michigan,” said the New York Daily News in an editorial, and holding new, “full-fledged primaries” in both states is the only solution. Otherwise, millions of Democrats will be “disenfranchised,” and the party could choose “a nominee whose legitimacy gets questioned from the outset by half the electorate.”

Getting the candidates to go along might not be easy, said June Kronholz in The Wall Street Journal. Clinton, who won both states the first time around, wants to seat the delegates according to the first vote. Obama supporters would understandably feel cheated if the party rewrote the rules and seated Michigan’s delegates, because he wasn’t even on the ballot there. But they’re also wary of a new vote, since “Michigan’s blue-collar voter base mirrors Ohio's, which went heavily for Sen. Clinton this week.”

Obama might want to get on board, said Steve Kornacki in The New York Observer. “Do-overs” of some sort are almost inevitable, and “it would be vastly better” for Obama if he were seen more “as a leader on the issue than a follower.” Even a “15-point loss in a new Florida primary” would leave him with a delegate “edge” over Clinton, and he will likely fare better in Michigan, “especially if caucuses are held there.” Making it clear now that “he wants their voices heard” would help his standing among voters in both states.

If both candidates agree to re-votes, that’s great, said Adam C. Smith and Wes Allison in the St. Petersburg, Fla., Times. But there are still “big hurdles”—notably: who will pay? A new statewide primary in Florida alone would cost $25 million, and even a vote-by-mail ballot would cost as little as $4 million.

Somebody in the party has to “ante up,” said Brian Dickerson in the Detroit Free Press. Dean’s assertion that the national party has “no duty to help” is “absurd,” especially since Democrats today “hardly lack the resources to bankroll a new primary.” What’s clear is that Dean needs to broker a fair and “scrupulous” do-over if he wants to avoid “unflattering comparisons with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

?There is “a common-sense solution” to this “potentially ruinous fight” for the Democrats,? said John Mashek in U.S. News & World Report, but it’s ?”so apparent that it will probably never happen.”? ?Obama and Clinton are the ones with the most to lose, so they should quit the “?grandstanding and dilly-dallying”? and agree to pay for a re-do out of their “bulging campaign treasuries.” Otherwise, ?”we might as well inaugurate John McCain right now.?”

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