Looking Forward: The Credentials Committee

In an interview with the Washington Post on Saturday, Hillary Clinton declared that she will take her presidential bid all the way to the August convention, if necessary.

“I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don’t resolve it, we’ll resolve it at the convention— that’s what the credentials committees are for .” [Emphasis added]

Not quite. What Clinton fails to mention is that the credentials committee, which would decide which delegations get seated and which do not, votes in July. The committee is going to be dominated not by Clinton loyalists—although three co-chairs have ties to Bill Clinton—but by people selected by Barack Obama and Howard Dean.

Of the committee’s 186 delegates, Dean appoints 35 himself. This group is going to do whatever he tells them. If the DNC works out a compromise solution to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations, they’ll support that. If not, they’ll oppose it. The rest of the committee members, divvied up by state, are allocated proportionally. So if a state has four committee seats and the two candidates split the vote in that state’s primary, Obama gets to appoint two members and Hillary appoints two. Since Obama has the lead in pledged delegates—and will have the lead going into the convention—he’ll also have more committee members, and will therefore control the committee when it comes to deciding on Michigan and Florida.

The one scenario in which the Florida/Michigan question could reach the convention is if 20 percent of the credentials committee decides to file a minority report . That could conceivably allow the entire convention to vote on the Florida/Michigan question. Needless to say, Democratic leaders will do everything they can to prevent this scenario from happening.