Major Michigan District Conventions Update

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 15:52

Information is currently spotty, but right now it appears that Obama won most, but not quite all, of the uncommitted slots at the Michigan district conventions. Relevant news article:

Sen. Barack Obama's supporters appeared to fall short of capturing all the 36 uncommitted delegates chosen Saturday during Democratic congressional district conventions across the state.

In three Southeast Michigan districts, activists supported by Michiganders for Obama, the Illinois senator's ad hoc organization in the state, lost out to union-backed candidates, said Christina Montague, the group's state coordinator. Elsewhere across the state, the Obama group's appeared to fare well, she said.

Michiganders for Obama currently claims 15 delegate victories, but their list is clearly incomplete. I have found news reports confirming that Obama supporters won both uncommitted spots in the 3rd, 7th, and 8th, districts, along with two of the three in the 9th, adding at least another six to Obama's total. Montague also expressed confidence that Obama supporters won both uncommitted slots in the 2nd district, which would increase Obama's total to at least 23 or the 36, although I can't find a confirming news report at this time.

UAW supporters, but not necessarily Clinton supporters, appear to have won at least four of the uncommitted slots, snagging at least one in each of the 9th, 12th, 13th and 14th districts. The UAW in Michigan has not endorsed a candidate, so this move harkens back to old-school, pres-1972 conventions. Back then, unions and local party bosses locked down blocks of delegates, thus giving them tremendous leverage at the convention. The UAW appears to have pulled exactly that off in Michigan, to the tune of at least four delegates, and possibly more. Maybe we should start a "UAW" column on delegate counts, right next to the Edwards totals. If Obama stumbles in upcoming states, the nomination might go through Edwards and / or the UAW.

A complete list of the delegates selected at the district conventions will be released on Monday, making the count far more exact. Right now, my count is 47 for Clinton, 23 for Obama, 4 for the UAW, and 9 that I cannot confirm. While it isn't the 47-36 split that would have been ideal for Obama supporters, it is still a lot better than the 47-0 split that he faced entering the day. Every delegate that Obama managed to pick up in Michigan is important, as it begins to seal off Clinton's last remaining shot at the nomination. Even if Obama only manages to pick up 42 of the 55 uncommitted delegates in Michigan, with 13 going UAW, it increases his overall lead to 60 delegates even with Michigan and Florida included (click here for more). Further, such a total would guarantee that Obama will win a majority of pledged delegates even with Michigan and Florida included. Yet further, and most important of all, it would give Obama a very good chance to reach 2,208 in June.

It is delegate-counting season again. The next big event for Michigan is on May 17th, where the remaining 19 uncommitted delegates will be determined at the state party convention. Obama supporters need to win as many of those slots as possible, since it will improve the campaign's starting position if there are credentials fights. The fewer delegates that Obama has to challenge in order to reach 2,208, the better. Ideally, his campaign will not need to challenge any delegates in order to reach 2,208.

Update: Both 2nd district uncommitteds confirmed for Obama. Still looking for more info in the 12th, 13th and 14th districts. The 24 uncommitteds outside of those districts are confirmed as 23-1 in favor of Obama, with the remaining delegate going to the UAW in the 9th CD by a single vote.

Update 2: Great information provided in the comments by empywheel, and also in this thread over at Michigan Liberal. Some updates:

  • It appears that AFSCME, a union that has enodrsed Clinton, was also involved in organizing around the uncommitted delegates. So, there definitely was an attempt by Clinton supporters to secure some of the uncommitted, even if it did not necessarily work.

  • Michiganders for Obama was not the only pro-Obama group doing the organizing. So, while some MfO people lost, that does not necessarily mean they lost to non-Obama people.

  • Obama supporters won both uncommitted slots in the 11th, not just one. Also, people who claim to be Obama supporters won all three slots in the 12th. So, that makes the count 27-1, with results from the 13th and 14th CDs still unknown. However,  these are not exactly the most solid Obama delegates around, as some of them were won by old Edwards supporters, and even some people who switched from Clinton a couple months ago.

In other words, it appears that Obama has ostensibly won just about all of the 36 uncommitted delegates, perhaps only missing one delegate in the 9th because of divisions among Obama supporting groups. However, a dozen or so of the Obama delegates are weak supporters, and might actually be truly uncommitted or even backing Clinton. I'll consider it a 35-1 Obama victory for now, but that number is tentative pending future information. In truth, mistrust of some of the more machine or union oriented Obama supporters who won the uncommitted slots is probably just hard-core Obama grassroots paranoia. If someone publicly says they are for Obama, I see no reason not to trust them until they publicly declare something has changed.  

Chris Bowers :: Major Michigan District Conventions Update

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A couple of points (4.00 / 2)
First, the press is incorrectly assuming that the Obama people were "organized" by Michigan for OBama and therefore all were affiliated with the group. For example, the 2 Obama supporters in CD 2 are known, solid Obama supporters, but they beat out the Michigan for Obama candidates. So what MfO will have are just their own candidates. There was, at least within my district (CD15) and I think in CD2 some tensions between MfO and other Obama supporters. (For example, the Obama supporter who lost in CD15 to Lynne Schwartz is an officer in UM's Students for Obama chapter.) The Obama folks really missed an opportunity throughout the state for not having a pre-caucus meeting to pick their choice delegates. If what I saw in CD15 was typical, having multiple Obama supporters competing against one or two UAW candidates tended to make it easier for the UAW candidate to win.

Second, this comment (Hy is Dump Terry McAuliffe elsewhere) says both 11th delegates are Obama supporters (one MfO). Note I asked him specifically how Ron Gettelfinger voted in the 11th, which might give some indication what the UAW is planning.

THat whole thread offers some details on some of the other districts which appears to be more accurate than the organized press (since judging by someone's t-shirt is not the most effective way to figure out whether someone has been volunteering for Obama). Note, in particular, this comment

Both of the folks chosen to be uncommitted delegates said they would stick by Obama until he released them; however there was some grumbling that they were really for Hillary.

Which suggests there's some doubt whether or not the 8th delegates are really Obama supporters (and given the strength of unions in the 8th, that would not be surprising).

Based on what I saw in CD15, it looks like AFSCME may have also been involved in the organization to pick up delegates from the uncommitted line (one of the guys refusing to state preference came in wearing his AFSCME shirt, which isn't necessarily a good way to convince people you're not a Hillary supporter).  

Boy I sound stupid (4.00 / 1)
Ragging on the press by saying a t-shirt is not enough, but then using a t-shirt to make a point.

My point being--from this guy's statements, it was clear he wasn't an Obama guy, and in fact didn't want it to be understood the uncommitteds are obama votes.  

[ Parent ]
CD12 (0.00 / 0)
Here's SharonRB saying all three from the 12th are now Obama supporters, though they may not have always been.

It might well make sense to put those non-Obama uncommitteds in the Edwards column after all...

Thoroughly bizarre... (0.00 / 0)
Explain to me again why the Obama people didn't want to just have a re-do primary?

Mail-in. (4.00 / 2)
  Mail-in votes would have been difficult to verify.  When Oregon switched over to voting by mail entirely there was work done to ensure that there were no problems.  This would have been done with little preparatory work.  Also, everyone who voted in the Republican primary would have been excluded.

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

[ Parent ]
Please (4.00 / 1)
Please stop with the spin that everyone in the Universe wanted a redo except for Obama. The state officials themselves had very good reasons why it would have been very difficult to pull off. You don't just up and have an election. It takes a lot of time, preparation and money to do it properly.

[ Parent ]
state Republicans blocked attempts to have a re-vote n/t (4.00 / 1)

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
Short story (4.00 / 2)
a) First, understand that BY FAR the most likely way to have a successful revote would have been to plan a caucus starting on February 5 (which in MI is a firehouse caucus that has easier absentee or online voting than the primary, so has none of the disenfranchisement problems of an IA-style caucus). You'll recall that Hillary spent several months refusing to even consider a caucus in MI, even though it would have been like the NM caucus she won. So you should also be asking why Hillary didn't want the most logical option for a re-do.

b) Also, understand that the party--particularly the local parties in larger counties--were pretty spent by planning for 6 possible dates for the early caucus/possible caucus. So any plan had to be fairly easy with a lot of lead time (the local parties organize the caucus site reservtations).

c) Finally, as to why Obama and Clinton couldnt' agree upon a redo? Because there was no good solution for what to do with the numerous Dems and Independents who voted on an R ballot in January. Hillary, of course, wanted to penalize people for voting for the meaningful primary after having been told the Dem primary was meaningless. Obama, of course, recognizes that he would lose a chunk of supporters by their exclusion. There probably were potential solutions to that problem--but only ones that would have worked in the caucus structure (see point a, why Hillary didn't want a revote). Though the press (which largely relied on Hillary supporters giving anonymous comments) didn't mention that part--but it, plus timing, was the final dealbreaker on a redo.

[ Parent ]
Ah. (4.00 / 1)
So you should also be asking why Hillary didn't want the most logical option for a re-do.

Well, I'm not asking that question because I don't think it would have been in Clinton's interest to have a redo, since I think Obama would have either won a re-do or lost by an insignificant margin that would have closed off Clinton's (spurious) argument that the Jan. 15 results should stand.

But I had been under the impression that Obama's people were actively blocking any sort of re-do. This, however, makes it sound like a case where the parties just couldn't come to an agreement. Fair enough.

[ Parent ]
Obama press release on why (no revote) (0.00 / 0)
No one disputes that the election will have to be hurriedly prepared; and it is further accepted that it is, in material respects, unprecedented in conception and proposed structure.  Michigan will be, for example, the first to state to have re-run an election in circumstances like these, to redress violations of party rules, and it will be the first to do so with the state supplying the legislative and administrative support but with private parties underwriting the costs with "soft money".  Whether the state can achieve its goals here depends on the nature and seriousness of the legal and administrative questions presented by this initiative-questions that, raised after the election, could put at risk the running of the election, undermine acceptance of the results if the election is held, and in both cases effectively deny Michigan voters, a second consecutive time, meaningful participation in the nominating process.

For the reasons discussed briefly below, there are such questions and they are serious both in nature and in their potential, if not likely, impact on the June election proposal.

[ Parent ]
on Edwards supporters as Obama delegates (0.00 / 0)
Many of the NJ at-large or PLEO pledged delegates are former Edwards supporters  -- admittedly, it is a bit different since the NJ ones are pledged to Obama while the MI ones are not -- so I wouldn't regard it as unusual.  

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Neither would I (4.00 / 1)
In truth, it is probably just mistrust between hard-core Obama grassroots types, and all other outsiders. If someone publicly says they are for Obama, and all these delegates have done just that, I see no reason except paranoia not to take them at their  word until they publicly shift.  

[ Parent ]
'...until they publically shift.' (0.00 / 0)
But if that happens AFTER a deal is struck to seat the delegation, then it is too late, from the Obama campaign point of view.

The only conditions under which the Michigan delegation will now be seated are:
1) Clinton drops out
2) a deal is struck between the two campaigns, to divvy up the delegates. For this to happen, Obama will have to have the right that Clinton already exercised for her delegate candidates, to vet and strike any delegates of dubious loyalty. But here, they are not just candidates, but already elected! The evil effects of MDP breaking the rules just continue to snowball - imagine how 'bitter' for an activist to be elected, then stricken.

I heard Mark Brewer on NPR this morning, saying that any deal reached could be implemented by having State Central choose the right number of Clinton and Obama delegates to round out the delegation to the number specified in the deal, whatever that turns out to be. But again, it is not that simple. Obama would have to be able to vet the at-large and PLEO candidate list, and that has not happened yet. The next State Central meeting, and the only one within the relevant time frame, is May 17. (I will be there).

Anyhow, in my list below, all those coded BfO or O are solid.

[ Parent ]
Hi - I'm new here, (0.00 / 0)
long-time blogger at kos, Michigan Liberal and now at the new West Michigan Rising. I am also one of the elected delegates in the Michigan 6th.

Here is the list I have been able to compile. MfO are Michiganders for Obama - endorsed. O means other Obama supporter. (O) means they said in the convention they supported Obama, or I have another news report that says they are, but I don't know on what basis that is being reported. ? means unknown, AFAIK. To me, having someone say they are for Obama in answer to a direct question in a convention filled with Obama supporters is not as strong evidence as knowing they have previously supported him.

District 1
Miles Baker O
Abby Dart MfO

District 2
Rillastine Wilkins O
Joseph Zainea O

District 3
Armand Robinson O
Alice Corey MfO

District 4
Mary Bacon MfO
Robert Ciaffone MfO

District 5
Floyd Clack MfO
Geraldean Hall MfO

District 6
Mark Miller MfO
Marletta Seats MfO

District 7
Leonard Smigielski (O)
Fran Sibly (O)

District 8
Irene McDonnell-Cahill (O)
Griffin Rivers (O)

District 9
Catherine Martin ?
Doris Toney MfO
Aldo Vagnozzi O

District 10
Rose Marie Fessler MfO

District 11
Marian Novak O
Michael  Siegrist MfO

District 12
Rory Gamble O
Jennifer Miller O
Nancy Quarles O

District 13

District 14

District 15
Derrick Jackson MfO
Christina Montague MfO
Lynne Schwartz MfO

13th District (4.00 / 2)
I participated in the convention for the "Fighting 13th".  The Uncommitted Caucus (which outnumbered the Clinton Caucus 250-50) elected three strong Obama supporters.  In fact, delegate nominees were asked to publicly pledge their support for Obama when they addressed the caucus, and all of them did.

Can you tell us names? (0.00 / 0)
You are the first peep I have heard from the 13th!  

[ Parent ]
Sure (4.00 / 1)
Wayne County Commissioner Tim Killeen; 13D Chairperson Cecilia Walker; John Henry Davis.

[ Parent ]

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