If Florida and Michigan Vote Again, Who Pays?

With the Democratic race for president coming down to only 100 delegates or so, Michigan and Florida are trying to regain their standing at the convention. That means both states may have to cast their ballots, again.

The Democratic National Committee and the state parties want the two states' delegates to be seated, but holding elections can cost tens of millions of dollars. So who's going to pay?

The national party barred delegations from the two states after they defied party rules and moved up in the primary schedule. Now, the race for the nomination is so tight. Michigan and Florida delegates really matter.

Negotiations have been under way among the DNC, the Clinton and Obama campaigns and the two states.

Suggestions for solving the dilemma have come in from all over. Senator and former presidential candidate Christopher Dodd suggested splitting the two delegations. He'd give half to Obama, whom he's endorsed, and half to Clinton. Dodd points out that seating the existing delegates wouldn't entail any extra cost.

But other Democrats aren't so worried about money.

In Michigan, some Democrats want what they call "firehouse caucuses" — essentially primaries under another name, and run by the party, not the state.

Sen. Bill Nelson, from Florida, likes a vote-by-mail approach, even though Florida's never done one before.

But then there's the matter of paying the cost. At the low end, estimates for Florida vote-by-mail run from $4 million to $10 million. At the high end, there's an estimate of a total $30 million for both states. Neither the two states nor the DNC wants any part of that bill.

But Democrats are lining up an alternative: private financing. The Democratic governors of two other states, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jon Corzine of New Jersey, say they're willing to raise half the money — as much as $15 million. Both governors support Hillary Clinton in the nomination race.

Getting the money shouldn't be a problem. Democrats have already contributed hundreds of millions for this presidential contest — more than anyone thought possible.

The money would go to the state parties or to tax-exempt 501c organizations. Either way, the usual laws of federal campaign finance would not apply. Individuals could give any amount, and corporations or unions might be able to give as well.

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