It's Not All in the Family for Some DNC Rules Committee Members

Don and Carole Fowler are married but one supports Clinton and the other supports Obama.

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You might call them a political power couple. Don Fowler is a former Democratic National Committee chair; his wife, Carol Khare Fowler, is chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. They are both superdelegates. And both sit on the DNC's now famous Rules and Bylaws Committee, which will meet this Saturday in Washington to decide the fate of the delegates from the punished line-cutting primary states, Florida and Michigan.

While they and the 28 other members of the committee try to figure how many delegates get seated from these two states, and also how to divide those delegates between Hillary Clinton, whose name was on both ballots, and Barack Obama, who removed his name from the Michigan ballot, there might be slight rift between the couple who have worked in politics together for more than 30 years and been married for 2½. Carol has endorsed Obama; Don supports Clinton. U.S. News discussed the state of the race and the meaning of this meeting with the couple.

Excerpts:

There have been rumors of planned protests at the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting this weekend in Washington. What kind of circus are you expecting in D.C.?


Carol Khare Fowler: I hope that inside that meeting there won't be any circus at all. We usually don't have a circus. Don Fowler: Rules committee meetings are not things that fascinate people.

Carol: People might die of boredom...about the most exciting thing that ever happens is some reporter goes to sleep.

DNC lawyers recently assessed the situation and found that only either half of Florida and Michigan's delegation can be seated, or the whole delegation can be seated but then every delegate can only get half a vote. Is the Rules and Bylaws Committee bound to this judgment?


Carol: I think we are going to debate that. I agree with the DNC lawyers, and Don does not. Don: I clearly do not. I mean, it's a hell of a thing that the DNC lawyers will come up six or eight months after the rules committee has imposed these sanctions and say, 'Oh, y'all made a mistake,' right in the middle of all this controversy.

Carol: That's not what they are saying. They are saying we can keep it at 100 percent [of delegates taken away from Michigan and Florida] if we want to, we can't go below 50 percent.

Don: That's ridiculous.

The original decision to punish Michigan and Florida for having early primaries came from the Rules and Bylaws Committee. What were your assessments then, and, looking at the situation presently, did you ever expect this to happen?


Carol: I knew this would happen. I think everybody knew that this would happen, that they would come back and ask for their delegates. I think that the rules say we had to absolutely reduce them by 50 percent—[the Rules and Bylaw Committee] didn't do that, it happened automatically. We added on to that and made it 100 percent, but I think everybody knew at the time that as we got closer, as those delegates were pledged to candidates, that people would be back wanting their votes back. Do either of you have an idea of how they can split these delegates between Clinton and Obama?


Carol: In Florida they would be pledged to the candidate in the proportion of the election results. In Michigan, I don't how you'd do it. Don: Here's another problem: In Michigan, the general political impulse is to give Obama the uncommitted votes, and that's contrary to the charter of the Democratic Party. Because the people of Michigan voted for an uncommitted slate, to arbitrarily take them from uncommitted and give them to a candidate is totally contrary. We don't have the prerogative to say, 'OK, you folks in Michigan, 33 percent of you voted for uncommitted but that doesn't count, we're going to give your votes to Obama.' You can't do that. But we might anyway, despite of the fact that you can't or may not. These rules are selectively enforced.

So then how do you think the Rules and Bylaws Committee will end up splitting the delegates between the two candidates? Do you have any predictions on how it will actually be done?