Florida, Michigan re-votes come down to money

Hillary Clinton supporters in Florida, the other state that may get a Democratic re-vote along with Michigan.
Hillary Clinton supporters in Florida, the other state that may get a Democratic re-vote along with Michigan.

(CNN) -- Democrats agree that new voting is needed to determine convention delegates for Florida and Michigan, but they can't figure out how to pay for it.

Hillary Clinton supporters celebrate in Davie, Florida, on the night of the state's January primary.

Both states held their Democratic presidential preference primaries early, in January. For that, the Democratic National Committee followed through on its warning and stripped both of their delegates for violating party rules by scheduling their primaries too early.

The Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in either state, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who won both states, was the only top-tier candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

Florida and Michigan moved up their primaries because the states wanted to be sure their political clout was not lost to the four states that had Democratic Party permission to vote before the official kick-off of the primary season on February 5. Those four were Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Now, neither Illinois Sen. Barack Obama nor Clinton will be able to attain the 2,024 delegates needed to clinch the nomination without delegates from Florida and Michigan.

"People are now looking to Florida and Michigan as overtime, that we're going to finish a sense in a tie, and Florida and Michigan could actually help tip the balance one way or the other," Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said.

"With two outstanding candidates battling so closely for their party's nomination, there's no way you can tell nearly 2 million Florida voters they don't count," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said.

Talks late Thursday in Michigan failed to yield a plan for new voting after hitting the big snag of "Who pays?" A spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Michigan, said cost and logistics may prevent a primary re-do there, according to The Associated Press.

A source close to the discussions told CNN that the state party agreed not to spend any taxpayer dollars on a re-vote, which in Michigan could cost $10 million or more.

Discussions in Michigan were to continue Friday, the source said, and included the state's senior Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Carl Levin.

Another contest in Florida could cost as much as $20 million, said Sterling Ivey, spokesman for the Florida Department of State. He said Florida would need at least 90 days from the time a decision is made to set up any new election.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says Florida and Michigan cannot be given passes for violating rules that were clear to them, and the DNC would not pay the bill for their errors.

"The rules were set a year and a half ago. Florida and Michigan voted for them and then decided that they didn't need to abide by the rules. When you're in a contest, you do need to abide by the rules," he said.

"You cannot violate the rules of the process and then expect to get forgiven for it," he said.

Dean said he has to run a process that yields an honest result, and, "The only way to do that is to stick to the rules that were agreed to by everybody at the beginning."

But Granholm said a solution will be found.

"I can assure you that Michigan and Florida are going to be at the convention. Our preference is not to have to storm the Bastille," she said.

State Sen. Tupac Hunter, Obama's co-chairman in Michigan, has doubts about any re-vote.

"From a timing perspective, a financial perspective, as well as a logistical perspective, I am not sure the options of a new primary or a caucus are feasible at this point," Hunter said.

But if there is one, he said, the national party should assume both financial and operational responsibility.

But Dean, while conceding a re-vote would be in the best interests of Florida and Michigan voters, said the national party's main interest is winning in November and it would save its money for that battle.

"[The DNC's] job now is to elect the president of the United States and we're not going to have the resources to run a primary in Michigan or Florida," he said.

Robert Ficano, Democratic executive of Wayne County, Michigan, suggested on PBS' "Newshour" Thursday that the Obama and Clinton campaigns split the cost for re-votes.

"They said they want something fair. And this is something that probably gets pretty close to fair, if they both put in an equal amount and we're able to conduct both elections," Ficano said.

Both Clinton and Obama have said they'll abide by whatever solution the DNC comes up with.

But CNN analyst John Dickerson said in the tight nominating race, half the party may be outraged with whatever the outcome.

Hunter said Democrats must take responsibility for the situation.

"We have our bed. We're lying in it," he said.

Posted by LS

CNN contributed to this report.