For some reason, Haloscan has decided I've been banned by the Webmaster and won't let me comment. Don't forget to see Renee's post below with a new pic of Howard taking the stage at DemocracyFest.
Today was the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee (RBC) meeting to add two states to the presidential primary calendar. Nevada will hold a caucus and South Carolina will hold a primary in the pre-window primary period. Iowa will remain the first caucus in the pre-window period and New Hampshire will remain the first primary.
Hotline On Call
The two open windows -- one caucus immediately following Iowa and oneThe battle for the western caucus came down to Arizona and Nevada although RBC member Mame Reiley (you may know her from her work on Mark Warner's Forward Together PAC) opined that had this process begun earlier, Colorado would have been the front runner. (Personally, I don't see it.)
primary after New Hampshire -- drew proposals and submissions from across the country, though by yesterday, only AZ and NV were considered finalists for the caucus slot, and only SC and AL -- finalists, for the primary. (A few other states--like Colorado and Mississippi--were mentioned this morning.)
New Hampshire was hoping that the District of Columbia might be chosen to hold caucuses between Iowa and NH. DC sent a sizable contingent to the meeting, which sat in the front row, and applauded wildly at any mention of DC's bid.
Making the Case
The battle between Arizona and Nevada seems to center on the contest
between organized labor and Hispanic-American activists. Many supporting Arizona cited Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano during their speeches, while those backing Nevada cited the state's heavy labor population which, coupled with the state's
high Latino population, provides what one committee member characterized as a kind of double whammy.
Harold Ickes and DNC Secretary Alice Germond supported Nevada while Mame Reiley and former Gore advisor/Harvard Prof. Elaine Karmack supported Arizona. Hoping to protect New Hampshire's position in the primary calendar, NH Dem chair Kathy Sullivan supported DC as did Donna Brazile.
How They Voted
In the end, however, it wasn't even close. Nevada won the caucus state slot with 20 votes and South Carolina won the primary slot with 22.
- Nevada (20), Arizona (5), DC (2), Michigan (1)
- South Carolina (22), Alabama (5)
The new calendar looks like this:
Iowa's caucus will be held on Monday, January 14th, which means Nevada caucuses on 1/19, New Hampshire holds its primary on 1/22 and South Carolina primaries on 1/29. The window for other states to hold their primaries would open 2/5.
Hotline credits two reasons for Nevada's win:
- Organized labor, which overlooked their own internal breach to support a service-union heavy state like Nevada. Labor officials made a persuasive argument behind the scenes that a labor-infused early caucus would excite labor rank-and-file around the country, would demonstrate the party's continuing respect for labor's foot soldiers, and help to more broadly vet the potential frontrunner.
- Harry Reid, the minority leader. Not only did he heavily lobby on behalf of his state, he's gone out of way to publicly and privately embrace DNC chairman Howard Dean. The two met recently to discuss Dean's 50 State Strategy and '06, and while Reid wishes that Dean would spend a little more on Senate seats directly, he told Dean that he was an enthusiastic supporter of the project in general and would do whatever he could to help. The vote today reflects the respect that members of the RBC have for Reid as the leader of the Democratic Party, as well as their gratitude that he, almost alone among Democratic leaders, is an ally of Dean's party-building orientation. Also: Reid's chief of staff, Susan McCue, has calcified her position as perhaps the single most powerful Democratic staffer in the entire party. (Note: I have a problem with anyone being identified as "the single most powerful Democratic staffer." I think it's asking for trouble.)
Arizona's position as a late favorite is attributed to Governor Janet Napolitano and the respect she has in the party. Hotline notes that as late as Thursday, Arizona was the odds-on favorite to win, if there hadn't been a swing in Nevada's favor.
Harold Ickes lobbied heavily against South Carolina, claiming a presidential bid by John Edwards would take the state out of play, thereby defeating the purpose of holding its primary early. SC Rep. James Clyburn said that was the "most ludicrous thing I've ever heard in my life." Clyburn said that if Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack were a presidential candidate the DNC wouldn't take Iowa's "first in the nation" caucus away from it.
South Carolina seemed to be a no-brainer to me, especially compared with Alabama but I can't explain why. I won't even try to dissect what Ickes was complaining about...
Howard's official comment:
"From the beginning, I have strongly believed in the importance of broadening participation in the nomination process to better reflect the rich racial, regional, and economic diversity of the Democratic Party and ensure that our Party produces the strongest possible nominee. The Rules and Bylaws Committee has worked hard to achieve that goal while pacing the process more evenly and balancing the need for change with Iowa's and New Hampshire's important, traditional roles. This has been a long, thoughtful and rigorous process. I want to thank the members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee for their hard work. They have conducted this process with the highest integrity; I support this final recommendation to add Nevada and South Carolina in the pre-window period. I also want to thank all of the states who applied, their participation has been absolutely critical in ensuring the rigor and integrity of this process."The reaction from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan is predictable:
"The short sighted action taking by the DNC Rules and Bylaws CommitteeI'll be curious to see how this plays out. New Hampshire could decide to hold its primary before the Iowa caucus to preserve its "first in the nation" status. New Hampshire law says that no similar state contest can be held seven days before or after the state primary.
exacerbates the current problem of frontloading in the primary calendar. In
addition to ensuring that the Democratic Party will have a nominee by February 5th after only a handful of states have voted, the committee trampled on the grassroots tradition of the New Hampshire primary. Instead of going door to door and meeting the voters face to face, the candidates will spend millions of dollars on television advertising."
Gov. John Lynch warned members of a Democratic National Committee panel
today that if they vote tomorrow to add a state presidential caucus between the Iowa and New Hampshire that the state is fully prepared to send the presidential nomination process into chaos.
In a letter to members of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, Lynch said they should assume Secretary of State Bill Gardner will move up the date of the state's first in the nation presidential primary, even in front of Iowa if it has to.
How far can New Hampshire push the DNC before it pushes back? I'm hoping Howard exercises his prerogative as party chairman to put New Hampshire in its place.
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