Depending on how the next handful of nominating contests go for the Democrats, the Florida/Michigan situation may once again be resurrected (In fact, Michigan Dems are going ahead with their delegate selection process despite the DNC sanctions.) and prove crucial to the outcome of the party's nomination race. In the UGA Campaign Discussion Group on Wednesday, the issue of the Credentials Committee and its role in deciding the fate of those delegates from Florida and Michigan was raised. This 186 member group is comprised of 1) party members from the states based on each state's primary or caucus results (not clear whether the results are from this cycle or from the past) and 2) party members appointed by the chairman of the party. There are 161 of the former and 25 members appointed by DNC chairman, Howard Dean. This committee is a completely separate entity from the Rules and Bylaws Committee that opted to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates for violating the contest scheduling rules in their delegate selection plans. The "make an example of them" approach may not be felt as intensely in the Credentials Committee as it was in the Rules Committee. However, "the Dean 25" (as Avi Zenilman of Politico is calling them) may have something to say about that.
The question though, is, are these appointees in lock step with the positions Howard Dean has taken on the Florida and Michigan question. One thing that the Politico analysis fails to examine directly is when these appointments were made. They do come to the conclusion that these Credentials members may not be beholden to what Dean wants. But if these appointments were made when he became chairman in 2005, there's no way this was even an issue in the appointment decisions. Like everyone else then, these folks are faced with having to choose between Clinton and Obama. And just like in the primaries and caucuses and just like with the superdelegates, there is a pretty even split in who members of the Credentials Committee appear to backing. Based on the "hints" information in the Politico piece, eight support Clinton, eleven favor Obama, five are neutral and one has donated to both and favors the 50 state strategy under which Dean has the party operating. Obama then, has a slight edge with five or six members holding all the power. Even if that 50 state strategy backer opts for Obama (And as FHQ has speculated, Obama puts more states in play on the electoral college landscape than Clinton, with the result of promoting the strategy more effectively.), the Illinois senator only has 12 of the 25 members of the committee in his corner. The other five would all have to break for Clinton though to give her an edge.
Is that good news for Florida and Michigan? Probably not. But it won't necessarily be because of the Credentials Committee bowing to Dean's desires on the matter.
I still feel like the party will quietly punish Florida and Michigan, but will ultimately strip half their delegations as called for in the original rules for 2008 delegate selection. But that will only be "quiet" if Florida and Michigan are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things in this nomination race. However, predictions are made to be broken in this primary season. So don't hold me to that.