Dean Says Solution for Democrat Dilemma Up to Florida, Michigan
March 9 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said it's up to Florida and Michigan to come up with a way to get their presidential primary delegates counted as the party agonizes over a rules dispute.
Attention is turning increasingly to the two states as the nomination race drags on between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Because Michigan and Florida violated party rules by moving up their primaries, they lost the right to send delegates to the nominating convention, a stance that Democrats figured would be reversed once there was a clear nominee.
Clinton won the primaries in both states, even though none of the candidates actively campaigned in them and hers was the only name on the ballot in Michigan. Now, Clinton wants the primaries to count, and Obama supporters are calling foul. Dean said both campaigns will have to agree to a solution.
``We can't have half the Democratic Party walk out thinking there was some deal cooked, and that's why their person didn't win,'' Dean said today on CBS's ``Face the Nation'' program. ``The loser in the race has to feel that they've been treated fairly.''
Florida and Michigan have two options, Dean said. They can hold a ``do-over'' contest or petition the convention's credentials committee to get their delegations seated.
Democrats appearing on CBS and other networks this morning raised the possibility of mail-in elections, a combination system weighting the results of other contests or just counting the previous elections as valid.
Raising Money
Florida Senator Bill Nelson said on CBS that the state's Democratic Party might be able to raise the $6 million needed to run an election where every voter gets a ballot in the mail.
``The only thing I know to do is to do it over,'' he said. Nelson, who's supporting Clinton, said he's been working since the middle of 2007 to avoid what's become a ``train wreck.''
Debbie Dingell, a Democratic National Committee member in Michigan who's married to Michigan Representative John Dingell, said on ``Fox News Sunday'' that ``everything is on the table'' in her state.
Obama, 46, an Illinois senator, is currently ahead of Clinton, 60, a New York senator, in the number of delegates awarded by contests and is cutting into Clinton's lead among the 795 superdelegates -- Democratic Party officials and lawmakers who aren't bound by election results.
Delegate Count
Obama has 1,368 pledged delegates compared with 1,226 for Clinton, not including any superdelegates, according to estimates by the Associated Press posted on the Chicago Tribune Web site. A candidate needs 2,025 delegates to claim victory.
Obama backer Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, and Clinton supporter Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, both said on NBC's ``Meet the Press' that the battle may end up being decided by a brokered convention in August.
``I don't think either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton can win enough pledged delegates to get over the necessary threshold,'' Rendell said.
Dean said he would do what he could to avoid a fight on the convention floor.
``If we have to sit the two candidates down together or their campaigns down together and try to figure out how to make peace and have a convention that's going to work, then that's fine,'' Dean said on ABC. Even so, he said he believed a nominee would become clear in the coming weeks as more voters go to the polls.

Moving Primaries
The predicament stems from decisions by Florida and Michigan to move their primaries up ahead of Feb. 5 in an effort to give their contests more importance and loosen the grip of the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. The candidates, while courting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire last year, pledged that they wouldn't campaign in Florida and Michigan.
Nevertheless, Clinton flew to Florida and claimed victory there after voting ended on Jan. 29.
``There was a campaign under the radar screen in Florida, and everybody knows that,'' Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who's supporting Obama, said on CBS. Now Clinton is ``busy gaming it,'' he said.
Clinton said last week that Florida voters should be given their due.
``I'm going to let the leadership of both states see what they think is the best approach,'' she told reporters in Washington on March 6. Even so, she stressed that the record turnout in Florida showed people there ``clearly believed that their votes would count.''
Democrats, including Dean, largely agree that a solution must be found to seat the delegations from the two states because they will be critical in the November election against Republican John McCain. ``If Michigan and Florida are not seated, it is going to be monumentally consequential,'' Nelson said on CBS.

Why do I see this entire Florida/Michigan mess becoming even more of a clusterfuck for the Dems? The best decision would be to do a 50/50 deal. Seat half of the Florida delegates and half of the Michigan delegates. That way they still get representation, but are still being punished for breaking party rules.