Excitement for this Saturday's State Convention at Cobo Center in Detroit is at an all-time high! Michigan Democrats are fired up and ready to take on Gov. Rick Snyder in 2014.
In order to accommodate the anticipated higher number of delegates, we will be moving the Convention's afternoon session from the Riverview Ballroom to the larger Michigan Hall on the River Level of the Cobo Center. The Convention convenes at 3 p.m.
Credentialing and the Labor Caucus meeting will also be held in Michigan Hall.
This was an exciting weekend to be a Democrat. In an effort to build on our many victories from November, the Michigan Democratic Party held its State Convention at Cabo Hall in Detroit on Saturday.
As Democrats, we had some important priorities at convention this year. My top priority at this year's convention was to ensure the re-election of Mark Brewer as MDP Chair.
Mark has a proven track record of victory for Democrats. Under Mark's leadership, Democrats in Michigan have gone 4-for-4 in Presidential elections, 5-for-5 in U.S. Senate elections and 2-for-3 in gubernatorial elections. We've built a 24-seat majority in the state House and we shocked the pundits by taking out Cliff Taylor, making it the first ever defeat of a sitting Supreme Court Justice.
Just as important, Mark is working hard to build the future of the MDP by traversing our state and working with tens of thousands of activists at thousands of local party meetings.
As Democrats, we've accomplished a lot with Mark Brewer as Chair, and there's plenty of work to do. That's why I supported Mark Brewer for re-election, and why I am excited that he will continue his service as Chair of the MDP.
I was glad to see so many Democrats out this weekend. It was a fun and productive weekend for the party.
The Republicans have their statewide convention this weekend in Lansing, where they will kickoff their attempt at reviving their party in the 2010 election cycle. Their main targets will be at taking back the Governorship on a platform that they know how to revive the state's economy.
How is anyone supposed to believe that from looking at the candidates? Rep. Pete Hoekstra was vocal in his opposition to the federal stimulus package to save and create thousands of jobs in Michigan, especially in his district. The other GOP candidates have followed suit in their opposition to saving our state.
They have even gone to the extreme of having former GOP chair and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour be the keynote speaker. He is so opposed to the stimulus that he will fight to keep the money from the people who need it the most. Quoth the DetNews:
"Barbour spokesman Dan Turner, for example, cited concerns that accepting unemployment
money from the stimulus package would force states to pay benefits to people who wouldn't
meet state requirements to receive them"
That's right. The governor of one of the poorest states in the country is expected to fight against giving assistance to the poor. What's worse is the Michigan Republicans are endorsing these policies by giving Barbour the honor to address the leaders of their party.
Is this what Michigan Republicans believe is the way to save our failing economy, by imitating the policies of Mississippi? I sincerely hope so- that will make the 2010 cycle even more of an epic fail for Anuzis/Weiser and Co. than 2008 was.
While speaking in new venues, Barack Obama laid out his vision about how the U.S.A. should work. Obama was impressive in describing America's promise, and saying, "this race is not about me, it's about you (the American people)."
The speech was inspiring and intimate and at one point he stated, "I really am one of you." As he boldly attacked the status quo, he was thorough and he filled his remarks with detail. Obama said what America thirsts for is a new politics for a new time.
Barack Obama's speech was crystal clear and resonated as an insistent summons to move forward as we face a turning point in our nation's history.
Knocking it out of the ball park at Invesco Field in Denver, Obama delivered a hit heard around the world! He addressed it all, from pocketbook issues and the American Dream to national security and the need to improve our standing in world affairs. It was an electrifying event with 85,000 people in attendance. What a great experience I have had as a first-time convention delegate!
Wow! Democrats have reached the unity phase. We are organized, energized and mobilized. It is all about our nation's promise
While Rich has been roving the streets of Denver in search of the perfect Obama Bobblehead, I've been stationed in the Big Tent all day, escorting VIPs around (aka herding cats), making sure the hundreds of media outlets are meeting/interviewing all the bloggers here, and trying to stay hydrated (Colorado is a surprisingly dry state compared to our beloved Mitten State).
As I write this, I'm in the Alliance Center, next door to the Big Tent, seated next to a blogger for the Huffington Post, and on my other side is a couple guys from one of the best web development firms in the country, who are also some of the original members of the Howard Dean's Internet Team from 2004.
Today's felt a little like being at a rock concert with an all-star line up, minus the music. I've met actress/activist Darryl Hannah, and yes, she's still incredibly tall, lanky and beautiful, environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr., national speaker/activist Van Jones (hat-tip to WK for this great photo) Sen. Patrick Leahy, and that's just to name a few. I've hung out with bloggers from CA to NY and everywhere in between, had a smoothie at the Google Retreat, and had organic chocolate at the Huffington Posts' Oasis Room - (I could have gotten a facial or massage, but I had to work, remember? :-)
Hopefully sometime tonight I'll be posting two video interviews with Van Jones and EMILY's List Executive Director Ellen Malcolm and Dept. Political Director Susan Markham up here. Think Michigan isn't going to play a big role this election season? You might think again after you hear what these folks have to say.
I'm signing off to head to the Pepsi Center for my first look at the actual Convention and fellow bloggers from BloggingforMichigan and delegate/blogger ME Miller from West Michigan Rising. Stay tuned to MichLib and don't forget to regularly check my updates via my Twitter feed.
On the SkyRide shuttle bus I ran into the incomparable Miss Laura from Daily Kos and we talked about the Congressional races in Michigan (specifically the chances for Peters to knock off Knollenberg, and Schauer to knock off Walberg) and her new job in DC.
Good news: I’ve been invited to attend the morning Michigan delegate breakfasts and press briefings. They take place every morning this week at the hotel where the Michigan delegation is staying.
Bad News: The hotel where the Michigan Delegation is staying is in Broomfield, CO, about 18 and a half miles from the Pepsi Center. As I’m staying two and a half miles in the opposite direction, and have no means of getting around other than taxi and public transit, I won’t be attending the breakfasts and briefings.
Lunch is Burritos from Chipotle. Yum!
I still have to trudge to the other side of town to pick up my DNCC Blogger Credential for today.
P.S. No, I did not make it to this morning’s 7am Yoga session at the Big Tent.
As I sit in the Grand Rapids airport prepared to board my plane to Denver for my very first Democratic National Convention there are so many thoughts swirling through my head.
I would be excited to go to something like this anyways, but given the absolute historic and epic worth that is promised on many levels for the next 4-5 days of my life, well it just brings everything to a whole new level.
There's the obvious, the very first minority to be nominated as a presidential candidate to the hype - when was the last time our country cared as much about an election as we do this one? - to the more personal - the very opportunity to be there and experience it all, well I feel a bit like a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve - I wait, all systems ready to absorb each and every minute.
I'm honored to be able to be there to bring you the latest updates, news, and observations as they happen. I'll be blogging here regularly along with Rich, but if you'd like to follow me, consider checking out and subscribing to my Twitter feed. For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, it's a micro-blogging site that allows me to post small messages from my phone. (There's a great video that explains Twitter you'll want to check out as well.)
I'll also be volunteering at the Big Tent, and thanks to the great folks at YouTube and Google, I'll be able to do some video blogging as well. So while I'm there, feel free to email me or leave comments here and let me know what types of questions you'd like me to ask our Michigan delegation and other political players.
Until then, I've got a flight to catch. See you in Denver!
Tomorrow afternoon I leave via airplane for Denver to cover the Democratic Party's presidential convention. Woo-hoo! I might post something tomorrow night, but that depends on Internet access. i don't expect to have anything up until Monday.
Meanwhile, as some of you might have noticed, there's a box on the right titled "Rootswire." That's an aggregate blog for a bunch of us bloggers covering the convention. Click on the box or you can go here to read posts by a whole bunch of different blogs. It'll give you a chance to see what some excellent bloggers from around the country are saying and doing.
Speaking of the blogosphere...Thanks to the good people at SquareState.net, I'll be staying with one of their bloggers, Frankenoid. I'm grateful for her hospitality and I'm looking forward to meeting her and her family, having already met Squarestate's johne at the NOI bloggers' Summit back in March.
Now that one of the most remarkable primaries in our nation's history has concluded, attention is turning to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. In less than three months, the Mile High City and the Rocky Mountain West will host this historic event for the first time since 1908.
The Convention also coincides with Denver's 150th birthday - a century-and-a-half of progress and innovation since its birth at the height of the Colorado gold rush. A hub of opportunity for people seeking new frontiers, people come to Colorado seeking much more than gold these days. The spirit of visionary zeal and limitless possibility is as strong as ever in the New West. So it's fitting that as the Democratic Party marches toward its own new frontier, it will do so through Denver.
A message to all of you in Michigan: you don't have to be in Denver - or on the Convention floor - to get in on the action though. The Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee has organized two interactive ways for people anywhere in America to get involved. We're convening a national conversation about democracy and community and invite everyone to participate.
I thought this was a pretty entertaining part of this afternoon's Associated Press story on this Saturday's congressional district meetings:
The 15 congressional district meetings could get raucous. Obama, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and two other candidates pulled their names from the ballot, forcing their supporters to vote for Uncommitted.
About 450 people have registered to run for the 36 delegate and 2 alternate spots set aside for those who backed Uncommitted. Brewer says the vast majority are Obama supporters, but he expects the competition to win a spot will be intense.
"People feel very passionately about their candidates, and I expect we're going to see a lot of passionate campaigns on Saturday," he said.
About 450 people also applied to run for 47 delegate and 13 alternate spots that will go to Clinton supporters, but the Clinton campaign has reduced the list to around 150 people, Brewer said.
About 21,000 party members are eligible to vote at Saturday's district conventions.
Its especially encouraging for me, a Hillary Clinton supporter, to see that, despite not having any formal organization in the state (like Michiganders for Obama), there was a fairly equal number of applicants for spots for "Uncommitted" and Hillary Clinton.
I can't help but to assume that the Obama campaign will benefit from its geographical closeness this Saturday. From what I hear from my Obama-supporting friends in Grand Rapids, the competition could be described as "intense."
I know in California, the Obama campaign slashed over half of his delegates to the congressional district conventions, until public pressure (and a fierce reaction from the netroots) caused Axelrod & Plouffe to reverse their decision at the last minute. There was a lot of speculation about whether the Obama campaign made a coordinated effort to eliminate anti-war activists and members of the netroots as a way of controlling the tone of the meetings. But others have contended that it was less of an effort to cut bloggers and hardcore activists, and more of a way for the Obama campaign to ensure that its big donors were rewarded with a spot at the convention.
We'll see how this Saturday turns out, any predictions?
I know that I plan to be watching this all unfold at Creston High School in Grand Rapids.
Earlier this week I was contacted by a woman who introduced herself by saying she had never done anything "activist" before, but after hearing about a protest of the DNC in Florida, had decided to organize one here in Michigan. I'm pasting the flyer for the event below:
On January 15, 2008, nearly 600,000 Michigan Democrats went to the polls to make their voices heard in the Democratic Presidential primary. The popular vote in Florida and Michigan has been counted, certified by election officials in each state, and officially tallied by the secretary of state in each state.
Our votes cannot be ignored. We will not be disenfranchised. The DNC’s refusal to count our votes and seat our delegates according to the ballots cast on January 15 compromises our civil liberties and our voting rights. This decision affects the rights of ALL Michigan residents regardless of political affiliation.
Michigan, let your voice be heard.
Join together in a grassroots effort to ensure voting privileges and protect the right to vote for future generations.
Demand that our votes be counted and delegates seated based on the Jan. 15 poll results or that a new Michigan primary take place.
Demand that the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee take the necessary steps to ensure the voices of the people of Michigan are heard and its delegates are seated at the Democratic convention this summer.
Where: Michigan State Capitol Building, Lansing, Mi.
According to The Politico's Ben Smith, there are 50-60 Michigan and Florida union members picketing at the DNC headquarters.
They're complaining that the DNC's refusal to seat Florida and Michigan delagates will prevent dozens of union members who are delegates from attending the convention, and they want DNC Chairman Howard Dean to resolve the dispute.
Mike Williams, a Florida union member, compared the DNC's refusal to seat the delegates from those two states as similar to when a comoany locks outs striking union employees.
"We're getting locked out," said Williams as he and the other union members pickteted the DNC. Williams estimated that as many as a dozen building trade union members, and 30 union members overall, would be part of the Florida contingent to the Democratic convention
Update: The pickets are members are of the Building and Construction Trades Council, which, to my knowledge, has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate.
The Democratic National Committee said Tuesday that Florida and Michigan members will be seated on the three standing committees - including the critical Credentials Committee-at the party's 2008 national convention, a position that could affect the selection of the Democratic nominee.
Hillary just sent out the following message encouraging Americans to join her in calling for the voices of Michigan and Florida Democrats to be heard.
It is a bedrock American principle: we are all equal in the voting booth. No matter where you were born or how much money you were born into, no matter the color of your skin or where you worship, your vote deserves to count.
But millions of people in Florida and Michigan who went to the polls aren't being heard. The delegates they elected won't be seated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August -- and that's just not fair to those voters.
The people of Michigan and Florida must have a voice in selecting our nominee for president. I have repeatedly called for seating their delegates.
Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams has released the following statement, urging Sen. Barack Obama to join the Clinton campaign in calling for a party-run primary to ensure that Michigan voters are not disenfranchised.
Michigan will be a key battleground state in November. Disenfranchising Michigan voters today will, in the heat of a general election, provide Senator McCain with a powerful argument to use against the Democratic nominee. We cannot allow this to happen.
The people of Michigan must be counted and their voices finally heard. What the people of Michigan need now is just action, not just words.
The Clinton campaign is calling for a new primary, because as Marc Ambinder notes, the judge's ruling does not necessarily require one.
Judge Nancy Edmonds's ruling DOES NOT order a new primary. She writes that the "the court agrees the issue of severability is beyond the scope of the claims." In other words: the parties themselves ought to figure out whether they need new primaries or not.
Full statement from Maggie Williams below the fold.
Hillary Clinton, speaking before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where she expanded on her Hispanic Agenda -- Una Vida Mejor Para Todos -- spoke about her campaign's efforts to have the voices of voters in Michigan and Florida heard, calling the exclusion of the nearly 2.5 million Americans from the democratic process "wrong."
She outlined two options moving forward, which echo the "Dear David" letter written by Clinton Campaign Manager Maggie Williams to David Plouffe earlier in the morning.
In my view there are two options: Honor the results or hold new primary elections. I don’t see any other solutions that are fair and honor the commitment that two and a half million voters made in the Democratic primaries in those two states.
Regardless of the outcome, Sen. Clinton said we have a "basic obligation to make sure that every vote in America counts."
Sen. Clinton called on Sen. Obama and his campaign to join her to make sure that there ia "non-partisan solution" to the problem.
This comes on the heels of the Obama campaign expressing deep reservations about using the mail-in option in both Michigan and Florida (Florida's Congressional Democrats have issued a statement opposing a re-do of any kind). Despite Sen. Obama's position on mail-in votes in Florida and Michigan, he co-sponsored a bill last June that would establish a vote by mail grant program.
My thinking is that the Obama campaign is in favor of a limited-window caucus (as the Edwards campaign was when it derailed the inclusion of all candidates on the Michigan primary ballot). I haven't seen any studies of it, but would a vote-by-mail operation increase the number of senior citizens (a population that trends HRC) that participate? I would think that the limited-window would function to exclude working-class and blue-collar workers (who also trend to HRC, especially in rust belt states).
Here's a good video explaining the lead-up to Obama's choice to remove his name from the ballot.
Democrats, faced with two candidates nearly three-quarters of the way to the magic number required to secure their party's presidential nomination, face what can be described as a nightmare scenario. Better positioned for victory in November than any party since 1984, Democrats are close to throwing that advantage away, and options for salvaging a unified party by the late August convention are dwindling.
Florida and Michigan, both states who jumped ahead of the party's pre-approved window in which they were allowed to hold nominating contests, are now casting about for a way to have their delegates seated in Denver this summer. That's not the way their gambit was supposed to go.
When both states' legislators moved their contests to January 15, in Michigan, and January 29, in Florida, they thought they knew exactly what they were doing: While the DNC might strip them of delegates, the eventual nominee would instruct credentials committee members to allow the two states' slates to sit n the convention floor. But that plan did not factor in the possibility of a contested convention.
Now, based on delegate allocation, it looks almost certain that votes to seat the delegations in their current iterations - both overwhelmingly favoring Hillary Clinton - will not exist. Examining the 186 members of the DNC's Credentials Committee, which would decide any contested delegations, the deck is heavily stacked against both states.
Of the twenty eight members DNC chair Howard Dean appointed, five have already voted to strip the states' delegates. Committee chairs Alexis Herman and Jim Roosevelt, along with members Ralph Dawson, Tina Flournoy and Janice Griffin, all served on the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which decided the punishments for non-compliant states. The remaining twenty three members will likely follow suit and vote to uphold the rules.
Based on results so far, it appears that Barack Obama's team will control at least 68 seats on the credentials committee, after an estimate that is, if anything, generous to Clinton. Clinton's wins have netted her 55 seats, while states that have yet to hold contests -- Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennyslvania, South Dakota, West Virginia and Puerto Rico - have yet to allocate their combined 22 seats. With Dean's selections voting to uphold the rules and Obama's delegates voting in their candidate's interest, 96 delegates would vote to keep Michigan and Florida out.
While the committee is slated to have 186 members casting 183 votes (delegates from the territories are given a quarter of a vote, though all four voted for Obama, suggesting they will cast their combined one committee vote for him), Florida's and Michigan's combined 14 delegates are still allowed at the convention, but they cannot vote on matters involving their own states.
Even assuming Florida votes to seat Michigan's delegates and vice versa, the coalition voting against Clinton's delegations from both states will likely add up to more than half of the remaining 180 votes (with Florida delegates voting) and 178 votes (with Michigan delegates included). Obama can't use that majority to seat a friendlier delegate slate, though, as Clinton would benefit from Dean's contingent, again voting to uphold the rules rather than in her favor, and could block new delegate slates.
In short, the only ways for Florida and Michigan to find their seats on the convention floor would be for the Clinton and Obama camps to reach a deal and together outvote Dean's credentials committee faction; or for the two states to hold some kind of revote, either a primary or a caucus.
A caucus in either state is unlikely to fly. Clinton, who has found herself at a disadvantage in those contests, has already declared she will not accept caucuses. The New York Senator also has an advantage on the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, through which any new Florida and Michigan plans would have to be approved. Twelve of the 28 committee members are publicly backing Clinton, while seven have said they support Obama. Clinton would need just three additional votes to block a caucus plan, and several committee members are said to back Clinton but are withholding public endorsements.
Too, Clinton and Obama are unlikely to come to an agreement on how to split the delegations fairly. Any agreement that advantages Clinton, she will argue, is only fair, since she won both states. But Obama is still free to walk away from that agreement, and he has no reason to accept a plan that puts him at anything resembling a disadvantage. Clinton would probably veto a plan splitting the delegations evenly, which would only make the magic number climb higher, from 2,025 to slightly north of 2,200, making her overall quest more difficult.
That leaves both states contemplating a primary, something that would cost each tens of millions of dollars. The trouble is that neither state has the resources to pay for the primaries, and barring a massive infusion of soft money from wealthy donors, the DNC or the candidates themselves, they won't be able to afford do-over contests.
The DNC option is off the table: Dean offered to pay for alternate primaries last year, but was refused. In a phone call last week with Senator Bill Nelson, of Florida, Dean told Nelson the party could not afford it now; through January 31, the DNC had just over $3 million in the bank, less than one-tenth what contests in both states would cost.
In short, neither Michigan nor Florida will benefit from taking their cases to the credentials committee. Both states will have difficult times financing new primaries, relying on wealthy donors pouring in millions of dollars of soft money, which state parties can accept under campaign finance laws, or on Clinton and Obama donating toward a do-over.
Democrats already caught bad luck when John McCain won the Republican nomination, as the rival party chose the candidate who would be strongest in November. Now, faced with the option of holding new contests in Florida and Michigan or nominating a presidential nominee without input from two key swing states, Democrats are seemingly losing the choice they would clearly prefer, the revotes.
A party whose fortunes looked so brilliant just months ago could be on the brink of the most public collapse since 1968. After riots in Chicago that year, Democrats rewrote their rules to resemble those they operate under today. The rules are clear, and everyone knows what they are. The trouble is that neither candidate seemed to imagine that the rules would actually have to be enforced.
Arcane political party rules are not what voters looking for change want from their candidates. Thanks to two strong, and stubborn, candidates, the Democratic Party is seriously in danger of taking what was once an embarrassment of riches and turning it into a plain old embarrassment.