Yet More Threats

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 20:17

One of the less enjoyable things to look forward to in the extended nomination campaign will be the inevitable threats about leaving and / or ceasing to provide any support for the Democratic Party from various quarters if Clinton or Obama does not win the nomination. Here is just one of those threats:

A member of Hillary Clinton's national finance team has started to circulate an online petititon that urges the Democratic National Committee to recognize the delegations from Michigan and Florida or else promise to hold new elections.

The petition, entitled "A Declaration of Fairness," was written by Michael Kempner, a PR exec in New Jersey and a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.

Kempner said that the genesis for the idea came out of a meeting of the campaign's finance committee a few weeks ago but said that the effort is being run independently from the Clinton campaign.(...)

"For whatever reason, the DNC seems to be captive of the Obama campaign," he said in an interview. "The fact is that many, many long-time supporters both financially and non-financially, that have a very different point of view. We very much want to put them on notice."

Kempner said that the petititon's language should not be interpreted by DNC chairman Howard Dean as a threat to withhold donations. But, he said, "We want the chairman to exercise some leadership."

Now, there are threats, and then there are threats that don't make any sense. First, if the idea for this "came out of a meeting of the campaign's finance committee," how exactly is it "is being run independently from the Clinton campaign." Second, if you are going to threaten someone, don't immediately say that it should not be interpreted as a threat. Third, it just is never very attractive for some of the nation's largest fundraisers to stamp their feet and demand to get their way, since these are the sort of people who get their way at just about everything in life.

Even beyond all of that, the reason this really bothers me is just how misdirected it is. In particular, the petition is addressed to Howard Dean, and the guy running it wants "the chairman to exercise come leadership." That's all well and good, but did it ever occur to these geniuses to actually send the letter to the people with actual purview over the matter? This is just a suggestion, but maybe, just maybe, instead of sending the letter to Howard Dean, they should send it to the rules committee which stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, to the members of the credentials committee who will hold jurisdiction over the matter, or to Nancy Pelosi, who will chair the convention itself. You know, the people with actual power over the matter.

Oh wait--doing that would require sending the letter to people like Harold Ickes, a member of Clinton's campaign and the DNC rules committee who voted to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates. I guess it would look kind of strange for the Clinton campaign to be sending petitions to members of its own campaign. So, instead of sending the petition to people who actually hold purview over the matter, they have decided instead to scapegoat Howard Dean.

Stay classy, Clinton fundraising team.

Chris Bowers :: Yet More Threats

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Yet More Threats | 40 comments (4.00 / 1)
...hrm. I do have to ask. This is on a free online petition site*, and it has at the moment a grand total of 122 signatures, some significant number of which appear to be invalid (#121: A Mr. "Quit Lying You Ignorant Bastard").

Mr. Kempner's unusual statements to Armbinder's blog aside, are you sure this is really news?

* I used one of them once! Nintendo didn't listen, though :(

Oops (4.00 / 1)
Sounds like some fat cats backed the wrong horse, and now they want to change the rules.

Sorry, not this time.

Did Obama ever (0.00 / 0)
endorse a plan for revotes in those two states? NO! He never lifted a finger to make sure the votes of those people counted.

Stay Classy Senator.

P.S. If a person in Florida and Michigan knows as we all do that Obama never stood up for them and their votes...

Do they have an added incentive because of his inaction to support him?

[ Parent ]
I wasn't up to Obama to endorse... (0.00 / 0)
It is UP TO THE STATES... when will you finally GET IT..!

[ Parent ]
forgot to mention... (0.00 / 0)
realizing in those STATES there are also Clinton and Obama supporters that were involved... but again all these negotiations are being done at the State level, not the DNC level.

[ Parent ]
Sure it was up (0.00 / 0)
to Mr. Inclusive to say something. he's running for public office with a message of inclusiveness!

He has been ducking the issue for obvious reasons and yo know it. but of course no Obama supporter ever wanted a recount in those states the same as their candidate doesn't.

[ Parent ]
He hasn't been ducking the issue... (0.00 / 0)
He's been continually reviewing what THE STATES and DNC have tried to pull together... but at the end of the day...

...agreeing with Kos "...the states have admitted they don't have the money, time, or political will to get new sanctioned contests:..."

The logistics of trying to organize a revote under both State rules and DNC rules is going to be expensive and is going to be open to the possibly of another huge democratic political f*ckup...

And, at the end of day it will not make a difference to the nomination.  Money, time and political will is far better served defeating the Republicans, defeating McCain.

But it seems Clinton and her supporters like you don't seem to care if the Republicans will get a third term.

[ Parent ]
Oh I do care (0.00 / 0)
if McCain wins. Which is why I support Clinton for the many reasons I have stated here before.

As for Obama he NEVER pushed hard to have Michigan and Florida votes count. He never suggest a solution or made any recommendations. You know that but it seems that his supporters don't seem to care that he didn't care.

[ Parent ]
And a Clinton superdelegate coup won't have any repercussions? (0.00 / 0)
If Clinton wins the nomination at this point she might curry some favor in Michigan and Florida (a state she would lose anyway), but she loses a good portion of the rest of the party in all the other 48 states and probably loses an even greater percentage of Independents.  At this point the math is so against her, she will only win the nomination by virtual coup and those of us who will hold their noses and vote for her in the general nevertheless could very well be outnumbered by those Democrats who either don't vote or vote for someone else.  She is now a completely damaged product and there is almost no way for her to salvage a GE victory should she steal the nomination.  

Obama is not without his faults. He should have at least made more favorable sounds about a revote, especially considering neither state was going to get their Republican majorities to allow a revote.  I have always been in the punish group when it comes to FL and MI so I have little sympathy for them, however the Republicans got it right when they hit them with the 50% penalty.

At this point Obama offers the only real hopes of getting the White House, but he had better have a good reconciliation plan for Michigan once he has secured the nomination.

[ Parent ]
A superdelegate coup???? (0.00 / 0)
How can it be a coup when their mandate has always said that they can vote how they wish - the same as you can vote how you wish. Get your facts straight and stop repeating falsehoods.

[ Parent ]
Well Done (4.00 / 2)
Oh wait--doing that would require sending the letter to people like Harold Ickes, a member of Clinton's campaign and the DNC rules committee who voted to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates. I guess it would look kind of strange for the Clinton campaign to be sending petitions to members of its own campaign. So, instead of sending the petition to people who actually hold purview over the matter, they have decided instead to scapegoat Howard Dean.

John McCain doesn't care about Vets.

Seriously - that's the key point right there (4.00 / 2)
I wish it'd be brought up more: Clinton's own people (her top advisers and top surrogates and top superdelegates) are the ones primarily responsible for the Florida and Michigan messes.  Obama has little institutional backing in either state that had sway over any of these decisions.

[ Parent ]
What a load (0.00 / 0)
It was not Clinton's people who moved up the primaries!

In Florida for example it was the ruling Republicans in the state house that moved it up. Get informed instead of just spreading mistruths as if they are going to do anything but make the author look rather uninformed.

BTW - do a detailed study or people in the Obama campaign, both working in the campaign and contributing to it and you will find plenty of institutional backing. PLENTY.

[ Parent ]
Who runs the DNC? (0.00 / 0)
DNC members, as seen from endorsements, lean towards Clinton as a group. And it was the DNC that imposed the punishment on Florida and Michigan.

That's not to say that Clinton bears the blame for this, or that there shouldn't be a revote - I'm agnostic on Florida, but in Michigan there certainly should have been - but you're clutching at straws here.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
What on earth (0.00 / 1)
are you talking about? Certainly nothing that I posted about.

[ Parent ]
Sure it was (0.00 / 0)
Gov Grantholm in MI and Senator Bill Nelson in FL are both Hillary backers.  She wanted two more primaries she could win before she delivered her knockout oin Feb 3 and ended the race (coincidently depriving the later states of any say, but whose counting).  

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
"Leadership"? (4.00 / 3)
Why do I get the feeling that "exercise some leadership" means "figure out some way to give the nomination to Clinton"?

!!! (4.00 / 4)
More Karl Rove tactics from the Obama kool-aid drinkers! Why do you hate democracy?

Just thought I'd save some people the trouble.

Of all the crazyness (0.00 / 0)
this cycle, the inability to see Hillary's hypocrisy on Florida and Michigan takes the prize.

It's simply astounding.  

high dollar donors need a lesson in humility (4.00 / 1)
wouldn't it be great if we could simply raise enough money online through act blue and the other net based fundraising avenues to be able to tell these self-important jerk-offs to take their money and shove it up their keisters?  

Yeah, About Those High Money Donors (0.00 / 0)
You might want to keep that down. Obama's hands aren't squeaky clean on "high money donors" here, according to CRP and Factcheck. Obama's campaign still gets 2/3 of his campaign funds from high-money donors and he certainly hasn't been too proud to accept money from mortgage lenders and brokers (Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, Countrywide, WaMu, etc.). You might not like Hillary Clinton, but she's never made a secret about her funders/backers. OTOH, Obama is the one who talks a good line about not accepting corporate/lobbyist money or influence, in direct opposition to the fact that he a) has taken corporate and lobbyist money as a U.S. Senator and prior to; b) seems not to have a problem accepting "high money donors" to his campaign.

As always I'm waiting for the Obama spin on this -- they're always so good at wiggling out of the facts.  

[ Parent ]
People can be pissed at the DNC and yell at it, it's their right (4.00 / 1)
I really wish the Obama campaign could come out and endorse revotes for MI and FL. Whatever the outcome he would still be the most likely to win in the end and in a much better position than giving the impression of foot dragging on matters of such important for the general election. How many times did I hear the complaints that Hillary is dividing the party, what do you think this is doing to the party?

The lack of revote will enforce resentment among Hillary's supporters (that Obama needs btw) who will feel cheated.

IF it hadn't been a close contest the revotes would have been a moot point, unfortunately IT IS CLOSE, can't do anything about that.

If your idea of DNC rules is that they must be enforced even to the detriment of the general election, then maibe we do live in different worlds.

Generally I agree (4.00 / 1)
but the problem here is that neither Michigan or Florida ever put a revote plan to an actual vote in their state legislatures.  And neither state party offered any other formal solution.

Obama didn't prevent either state from holding revotes.  And had either state moved forward with such a plan he would have been forced to endorse it.

But in both states there were factions on both sides of the fence that were opposed to revotes.  They may not have said so publicly but they opposed them.  

As for the petition in question, Mr. Bowers is 100% correct.  What exactly does Mr. Kempner expect Howard Dean to do?  If he has read the rules of the DNC selection process he would know that there is absolutely NOTHING that Howard Dean can do at this juncture.  The Florida and Michigan primaries were not certified.  Appeals to have them certified had to occur before the actual election.  Now the rules committee could enforce rule 20.C.7 in which they could seat the delegates after an investigation and hearing which

determines the state party and the other relevant Democratic party leaders and elected officials took all provable, positive steps and acted in good faith to achieve legislative changes to bring the state law into compliance with the pertinent provisions of these rules and determines that the state party and the other relevant Democratic party leaders and elected officials took all provable, positive steps and acted in good faith in attempting to prevent legislative changes which resulted in state law that fails to

But that seems exceedingly unlikely.  Both state Democratic Parties had to be brought kicking and screaming to the table to discuss a revote.  They made no sincere effort to block the changes in the laws and generally praised the changes.  

So that means that Florida and Michigan have to wait until the convention and the credentials committee.

[ Parent ]
It seems to have been counterproductive (0.00 / 0)
As today Dean unveils a plan to get the supers to commit when the voting is done in June, Leahy tells Hillary to quit and Casey endorses Hillary.  All here.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
To make (0.00 / 0)
Obama appear to be the bad guy here is absurd (not entirely sure that is what you are doing).  How did he put this mess into motion?  The mess was created by a lot of people, many of whom are in Hillary's camp.  You think any of Hillary's voters would be hollowing for a revote if she didn't need those delegates.  Don't get me wrong, the whole thing stinks and is a problem for the general.  However, the state legislatures in both states deserve as much blame as anyone.  Why aren't people demanding that the legislatures get their crap together and get a revote done?  Had they done this, Obama would have had no choice in supporting it.  

[ Parent ]
Have you seen the names on the Clinton petition?? (0.00 / 0)
I think this is the more current version... (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
FWIW, my new sig line at DailyKos (4.00 / 1)
"I will vote for the Democratic candidate for president--period." --Me

Unless something comes up that merits my changing it, I think I'll keep it until we have a nominee. I clearly have my favorite and tons of problems with their challenger, but this petulant whining threatening nonsense is idiotic, self-destructive, and has to stop.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

Democracy (0.00 / 1)
That is what we live in and as such we have the right to send letters. All of us do. Just as we do here and all over the internet as evidenced by the many petitions signed every year. So to say a group of other people do not have that same right is sad kovie. Very sad.

[ Parent ]
You don't have a problem with reading comprehension (0.00 / 0)
So stop pretending you do. Voting and sending letters are different things.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
And we do both (0.00 / 0)
in the blogosphere don't we - letters and vote.

The poster was saying others should not send letters, but yet we and others do. I do buy selective hypocrisy.

[ Parent ]
Here's some more sad: (0.00 / 0)
Obama up 8 points in poll.  None of this is going to matter soon.  That's Gallup.  Pew had him up 10 yesterday.  

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Don't put words in my mouth (0.00 / 0)
Few things piss me off when people willfully misrepresent my words--especially to make it look like I'm denying people their rights. How am I denying anyone their rights, or claiming that they have no such rights? If people want to send in whining petulant letters and post infantile comments saying that they'll never vote for the other candidate, fine, let them make fools of themselves publically and let everyone know that they're not real Democrats. They have every right to be stupid and self-defeating. I cannot and will not deny anyone that "right".

Nice try.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Control of the Narrative (4.00 / 1)
I would suggest that Howard Dean find a writer, research the minutes of all the relevant meetings, and issue a very well written report with documentation establishing exactly what has happened with regard to the Michigan and Florida delegations and the likely fact that they will not be seated at the convention.  

Dean can only be made the scapegoat -- the lad who lacks leadership and all that -- if he allows himself to be set up, and this is precisely the kind of tactics that will set him up unless he builds a firewall around the DNC decisions. And it will not be the first time Hillary Clinton has tried to undercut Dean -- it happened when it became he would be elected Chair of the DNC in early 2005, it happened with her opposition to the 50 state project, it happened with regard to who would own the content of the voter vault, and who would have access to it, and it happened when Dean did not send DSCC and DCCC as much money as previous chairs had for the 2006 campaign season, precisely because the DNC was financing the 50 state project.  That all has to be part of the Narrative.  

There are chapters to this saga.  There is the traditional and indeed Constitution of the Democratic Party responsibility of the DNC to set delegate selection and election calander rules.  Beginning in 2005, there was a review of recent rules, some changes, (who voted which way, what did the whole DNC do with the recommendations)?  Then the chapters devolve to the two state parties that made decisions to violate rules their own delegates had approved.  Those decisions need to be very clear.  The decisions were different.  Traditionally, Democrats in Michigan have had caucuses, which means among other things is that the entire delegate selection process is run by the party.  Volunteers are trained, the caucuses are scheduled and held, followed by party conventions -- none of it depends on the legislature or state funding.  Michigan made the decision to legislate a primary this year -- which took the ability to follow DNC rules out of the party's hands.  Who led this move?  All this needs to be in a clear statement of everything that happened.  Ditto for Florida, though in Florida there is no infrastructure for caucuses, and no tradition of holding them.  

All statements by all Candidate's campaigns need to be organized so they can be easily followed.  Likewise, party leader and DNC member statements need to be fully on the record.  

Now they will need this if it goes to the Credentials or Rules Committees at Convention -- so no harm in getting it done early, and putting it into the hands of the press and make it available on the Net.  

It is a very self-serving narrative that says Howard Dean favors Obama, and he is standing in the way of a solution because of his preference.  Problem is, it ain't true.  So the Narrative has to be authoritative, and it must be controlled.  

I Love Howard (4.00 / 1)
Voted for him and worked for his campaign. But in this case he screwed up. He didn't look far enough down the road to see that his moves (he is the DNC leader and has great sway) were going to disenfranchise voters in two very important electoral states. That was a gross oversight.

I hate to give credit to the repubs but at least they left 1/2 those states votes in place instead of completley cutting out Florida and Michigan.

Now Howie finds himself in a mess partly of his own doing. He had no say in what Florida and Michigan did. But he did have a say in how it was handled upfront by the DNC. He blew it.

[ Parent ]
Right as far as it goes (0.00 / 0)
He didn't step in when he should have done. The Republicans handled this better. Both of those are very true.

That said, the moment when he had control has gone. He, along with pretty much the entire party infrastructure, screwed up. However, he very definitely does need to cover himself now, because he can't do anything to fix these problems and he'll be blamed otherwise for something that is not entirely his fault.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
You misunderstand Dean's Responsibility as Chair. (0.00 / 0)
As Party Chair, Dean's responsibility was to get the Rules and Credentials Commission's work done on time.  This involved all decisions on Delegate Selection rules, plus the calander.  Once that was done, and approved by the while DNC, the responsibility of writing a state plan for doing the Delegate Selection and complying with the rules falls to the State Party.  State Partys are required to file their plans with the DNC for review by a date certain, and the DNC has a date certain for advising the State Party of the results of that review.  

In both Florida and Michigan's cases this year, they initially filed plans that conformed with DNC rules.  Michigan was going to Caucus in early February, and Florida had a primary date set for February.  

Then the State Parties decided to go outside the Window.  In the Case of Florida, because the State Legislature moved up the date (but the Democratic Legislators voted for the changes), and in the case of Michigan, the Legislature decided to do a primary outside the window, and many Democratic Legislators voted for this, and the Democratic Governor signed the legislation.  Before they voted, they were advised by the DNC that they were violating adopted rules, (their own DNC delegates had voted for the rules), and they were told what the punishment would be.  

It was not Howard Dean's responsibility to run State Party matters -- simply to make certain that Leadership of the State Parties knew these would be rules violations, and would have consequences.  

In both Florida and Michigan, had the Democratic Legislators not voted for the date changes, the State Party would have had the ability to go into court and challenge the state laws setting the dates outside the window.  That was not open to them, because they participated in changing the dates.  The responsibility for this rests on the State Chairs and on their central committees that did not take seriously the DNC rules and warnings.  So my argument is put the responsibility where it belongs.  If Michigan and Florida democratic voters are not counted at convention it is because their own state party officers intentionally violated the rules.  

Now, maybe we ought to take a look at why they violated the rules.  Fact is, many states have long been jealous of the special place New Hampshire and Iowa have come to play in our selection process.  Lots of reasons for this.  Money is certainly a major feature.  The early states generally get much more press coverage, the press spends money, the campaigns buy lots of ads in local papers and on Radio and TV -- and local folk make lots of money.  Likewise, the State Parties make money -- they own their voter information lists, and they sell them at a heafty price.  Iowa usually does a brisk business in lists two years before an election, and likewise in New Hampshire.  Campaigns rent storefronts, buy printing, all the rest, and of course the state's get good PR.  And of course they get to take the first cut at the whole field of candidates, including some who go forward, and ending the hopes of others.  This year the party decided to allow four states to go in the early window, about twelve states made their case, and ultimately the decision was Nevada and South Carolina.  Why -- because the DNC wants those early states to do their primary and caucus as retail politics, where the voters actually quiz the candidates, and the candidates have to show their stuff as to local concerns.  Florida and Michigan lost out because they are not suitable for retail politics of the type the party required.  So having lost the selection -- Florida and Michigan decided to tell the DNC to go Cheney it, and the DNC stuck to their role, they write the rules, get them agreed to properly, and then enforce the agreements.  

I think Dean did precisely what was expected of him -- and I think those who turned to the tactics of school yard bully need to be held responsible.  

I know something about these rules because way back when I did some work for the McGovern Fraser Commission -- in 1970, when we held national hearings, and totally reformed our Delegate Selection Process in the wake of the 1968 Chicago Disaster.  Subsequently, I served ten years on the State Central Committee of Minnesota's Democratic Farmer Labor Party, I co-chaired Alan Cranston's short lived presidential bid in 1984, I have managed over 20 campaigns using Caucus Rules, Chaired the State Platform and Credentials Committee, and worked on Credentials in Wellstone's first Senate Campaign in 1990.  I know my way around all this stuff.  I even watched the C-Span broadcast back in 2005 of the DNC meetings where the 2008 rules were debated and first adopted.  (I think I may have been one of the few attentive viewers then.)  You always have complaints about the rules from those who are not winning, and would rather blame the rules rather than the campaign/candidate, and you get lots of complaints from those who like to make up the rules as they go along, and never bother to read the real ones.  But you avoid Chicago's of 1968 by having an open process when you adopt the rules, and then sticking with them as "law" and not the preferences of personalities or power centers.  Those of us who did the McGovern-Fraser reforms accomplished a lot.  We got proportional representtion, we got an end to machine pols such as Richard J. Daley selecting the delegation for the whole state of Illinois, and then personally voting the slate without real consultation with delegates.  We got gender balance, we got racial and ethnic balance of delegations, -- as people will tell you Hubert Humphrey got the Nomination in 1968 because LBJ told Daley his preference, and Humphrey actually won not a single primary.  And yes, it was all about Vietnam and the determination of the bosses to keep the Kennedy and Gene McCarthy delegates silent at the convention.  Thus better delegate selection rules.  

[ Parent ]
its the deep concern for voters in FL and MI (0.00 / 0)
that has the other half of the Hillary campaign sending letters saying superdelegates need not pay attention to the will of the voters.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

You are what you do (0.00 / 0)
And what Mr. Kempner does is PR for, among others, Oxford Health, an insurer owned by America's largest health insurance corporation United Health.  

Just sayin'

Join the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee in the fight for guaranteed healthcare on the single-payer model at

Thanks For The Tip, Chris (0.00 / 0)
I am starting TWO petitions - one of which is to seat Florida and Michigan delegates. Now I know to send it on to the Rules Committee (with a copy to Howard Dean).

Regarding the other petition, well, let's just keep that my little secret for the moment.

Yet More Threats | 40 comments

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