Delegates We Need

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By Jon S. Corzine and Edward G. Rendell
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When Barack Obama's campaign says that Hillary Clinton can't escape the harsh realities of delegate math, it's telling the truth. The problem with that argument is that neither can he.

After last Tuesday's primaries, it has become increasingly obvious that neither of the two Democratic candidates for president is likely before the convention to attain the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the party's nomination. It appears, instead, that we are headed toward a stalemate.

As a result, the word "superdelegate" has stormed into the vernacular of the American public like no electoral term since "hanging chad." Understandably, both campaigns have focused their attention and energy on holding on to the superdelegates who have endorsed them, wooing those who have not and converting those who might be open to it.

That is to be expected. Both candidates are intent on winning a nomination the national polls say is increasingly close yet remains just beyond their reach.

Even if there were no other choice, having our nominee decided by superdelegates in the backrooms of Washington -- or Denver, at the convention in August -- would be less than ideal. But allowing superdelegates to determine the outcome of our nominating process while 366 pledged delegates, elected by more than 2 million democrats in Michigan and Florida, remain unseated is especially undemocratic and risks squandering the feelings of hope and optimism about a Democratic presidency that these two candidates themselves have done so much to engender across the country.

Fortunately, we do have another, more democratic choice: We can choose to enfranchise Democrats in Florida and Michigan, thereby increasing the likelihood that voters, not politicians or party elders, will determine who faces Sen. John McCain in the fall.

We're not suggesting, as our colleagues Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Charlie Crist of Florida would prefer, that the results of the previous nominating contests in those states be honored. Just as there is nothing fair in disenfranchising voters for decisions they did not make, there is nothing fair or democratic about seating delegates elected in states that were not honestly contested or where all of the candidates were not even on the ballot.

We are suggesting that Democrats in Florida and Michigan be allowed -- now that the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have long since passed and now that it seems virtually impossible for either of our candidates to reach 2,025 delegates -- to cast meaningful votes for delegates who will help choose a nominee whose support from the voters of our party cannot be disputed.

We believe there should be a revote in Florida and Michigan.

Govs. Granholm and Crist have expressed support for this compromise as well. As fellow governors, we can fully appreciate why, their states having voted once already, they would not want to burden their taxpayers with the costs of a second vote. We agree with them. But the stakes are simply too high to let the discussion end there.

Like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan are large states whose voters will have a significant impact on the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. Alienating voters in these states by disenfranchising them during our nomination process will surely undermine our party's prospects in the fall.

There are just too many important issues facing this nation and our next president: a struggling economy, the war in Iraq and way too many Americans still without health care, to name but a few. Risking the fate of our nominee in Michigan and Florida isn't only a risk for our party; it's a risk for our country.

Over the past year, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have shined a light on the problems our great nation faces, have energized our party as never before, and have generated unbelievable enthusiasm among countless new voters across race, gender and party lines.

Fortunately, this enthusiasm has also translated into record-setting fundraising. So let's have a revote in Florida and Michigan, and let the Democratic National Committee pay for it. We'll even volunteer to help raise the funds.

If we don't pay now, we surely will in November.

The writers, both Democrats, are governor of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively. Both have endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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