Friday, January 27, 2006

Dean Endorses DNC Nomination Calendar Changes

From The Hotline: National Journal's blog

In a letter sent last night to the two co-chairs of the DNC's rules of bylaws committee, DNC chairman Howard Dean for the first time formally endorsed proposed changes to the party's nomination calendar.

Dean tells committee chairs Alexis Herman and Jim Roosevelt that the commission "carried out its work in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, soliciting and listening to a broad range of opinions about the process."

"I am pleased that the Commission has made recommendations that seek to broaden participation and increase diversity in the early stages of the presidential nominating process. Indeed, I am mindful that over the years that Party has instituted reforms at making our nomination process fairer, more representative and more effective for both our presidential candidates and the voters."

Dean says the recommendations are "positive step" in that direction.

In December the commission recommended adding at least one caucus between IA and NH and at least one after. The commission urged the rules and bylaws committee to add incentives for states to hold their delegate selection contests later in the year. It also formally recognized IA 's and NH's "first in the nation" primary status.

The NH Democrats weren't happy, saying that another delegate event before its primary did little to enhance diversity and a whole lot to punish civic-minded NH voters. They also argued the changes would front-load the calendar.

However, a majority of commission members were convinced by arguments suggesting that adding as few as two new caucuses or primaries could add both regional and ethnic diversity to the pool of base voters who tend to winnow the early primary field. Also, DNCers with long-standing resentment against NH and IA found a venue to exercise their frustration.

Dean's endorsement signals that he was not swayed by NH's vociferous objections.

The rules and bylaws committee meets early this spring to discuss the proposal. The full DNC membership has the final say in April. If the DNC adds an additional caucus before NH, NH's Sec/State has promised to act to make sure NH's status is maintained. And NH's legislature is preparing to give him that authority.

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