Senator Carl Levin                                                 
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger
Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
DNC Member Debbie Dingell

May 22, 2008

Honorable Alexis Herman
Mr. James Roosevelt, Jr.
Co-Chairs, Rules and Bylaws Committee
Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Co-Chairs Herman and Roosevelt:

We are writing to urge the Rules and Bylaws Committee to support the request of the Michigan Democratic Party that the entire 157-member Michigan delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention be seated with full voting strength.

The members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee are familiar with the sequence of events that have brought us to the present situation.

As a result of the hard-fought deliberations and recommendations of the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling, in August of 2006 the Democratic National Committee adopted a new rule on sequencing presidential primaries and caucuses. Under this rule, the so-called pre-window states could each hold their presidential primary or caucus in January 2008, with the rest of the states following in February or later. The rule dictated that the pre-window states hold their primaries in a specific order — with New Hampshire coming third — and no earlier than designated dates between January 14 and 29.

While Michigan Democrats were disappointed that our state was not selected for one of the pre-window contests, we appreciated the new rule for adding a bit of much-needed diversity to the early nominating process, and as a first step toward breaking the Iowa-New Hampshire lock on the process. We notified the DNC that we would abide by the new calendar and its sequence provided that other states did the same. To be clear – the key issue which the new rule resolved was the sequence of the pre-window states, not just the number of pre-window states.

But at a press conference in Dover, New Hampshire last August 9, the New Hampshire Secretary of State indicated he was going to schedule his state’s primary before the date specified in the DNC rule, clearly defying the sequence and timing the Rules and Bylaws Committee had set. Michigan Democratic leaders wrote to Governor Dean asking if the DNC intended to enforce the rule against New Hampshire, but the DNC refused to act or even to answer our letters for months.

The Democratic National Committee then proceeded to selectively enforce its calendar rule. On December 3, the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to give New Hampshire a waiver to move from third to second place in the sequence. Michigan requested a waiver and was denied. When the Rules and Bylaws Committee itself decided not to follow its own newly adopted, hard-fought for rules and granted a waiver to New Hampshire, it set the stage for the present situation.

How do we move forward and put all of our energy into winning the White House in November? We all agree that winning Michigan is crucial to that goal.

At the request of the Governor of Michigan, the four of us have worked to find a solution for many months. We looked at a number of options to “redo” Michigan’s primary vote, including a privately-funded state-run primary; a party-run primary; and even a vote-by-mail primary. We had extensive discussions with the Clinton and Obama campaign organizations and with the DNC staff in the course of considering these options. Unfortunately, for differing reasons, none of the “redo” options came to pass.

So we developed the following settlement recommendation to the Michigan Democratic Party.

The Clinton campaign has taken the position that the results of Michigan’s January 15 primary should be honored and that Senator Clinton should receive 73 pledged delegates in accordance with the vote she received. The Obama campaign has taken the position that the January 15 primary results should be ignored and that Michigan’s 128 pledged delegates should be seated but evenly divided 64/64 between the two candidates.

Both candidates have a basis for their argument. The January 15 primary result was flawed because Senator Obama took his name off the ballot. He interpreted the DNC injunction and his pledge to New Hampshire that he would not campaign in Michigan to require him to take that affirmative step. As a result, we did not totally agree with the Clinton campaign’s position that the pledged delegates should be apportioned 73/55 (Clinton/Obama) in strict accordance with the outcome of the primary.

At the same time, we also did not accept the position of the Obama campaign that the primary should be totally ignored and the pledged delegates should be evenly apportioned 64/64 between the two candidates, given the fact that almost 600,000 Democrats voted in the January 15 primary, 55% of whom voted for Senator Clinton and 45% of whom voted for Uncommitted or other candidates.

As a result, we recommended to the Michigan Democratic Party that the pledged delegates be apportioned 69 to Senator Clinton and 59 to Senator Obama. That approach splits the difference between the 73/55 position of the Clinton campaign and the 64/64 position of the Obama campaign. Our recommendation was based on our belief that both candidates have legitimate arguments about the Michigan primary.

This 69/59 approach was overwhelmingly adopted by the Executive Committee of the Michigan Democratic Party – which like the Rules and Bylaws Committee has members who are strong advocates for both candidates – as a position that can unify our party and put this issue behind us.

To that end, both of our presidential candidates have made clear that they want Michigan’s delegates to be seated without penalty.

Senator Obama recently said, “If I am fortunate enough to be the Democratic nominee, I can guarantee you that the Michigan delegation will be seated and they’ll have a full voice at the convention.” Senator Clinton said just this week, “If we care about winning [Michigan and Florida] in November, we need to count your votes now. If Democrats send the message that we don’t fully value your votes, we know that Senator McCain and the Republicans will be more than happy to have them.”

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama understand that penalizing Michigan would needlessly and pointlessly wound their candidacy. If you vote to penalize Michigan, you will keep this issue alive, distracting from the real issues in the campaign. You would also be penalizing our candidates and our party, and ultimately our nation, because you would be weakening our nominee’s chances of winning Michigan, a state that is critical to our winning the White House in November.

We believe that the Michigan Democratic Party’s consensus proposal can unify our party and allow us to move forward. We urge the Rules and Bylaws Committee to adopt it. To penalize Michigan would legitimize the selective enforcement of our party rules, would fly in the face of the statements of both candidates, and would jeopardize our chances of carrying Michigan and winning the Presidency. For all of these reasons, we must insist on Michigan’s full delegation being seated at the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.


Senator Carl Levin Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger DNC Member Debbie Dingell


cc:    Members of the Rules and ByLaws Committee
        Governor Howard Dean
        Senator Hillary Clinton
        Senator Barack Obama