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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What is with this Democratic Primary Schedule?

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is chaired by Former Vermont Governor and 2004 Presidential candidate Howard Dean. Discussion has taken place within state Democratic Parties across the country and the DNC ever since the 2004 election as to when to schedule the primary of each state. The results are early primaries and lots of frustration among state Democratic Parties across the country.

The DNC decided to add just two states in the month of January to the traditional first in the nation primaries held by Iowa and New Hampshire. The new additions are Nevada and South Carolina.

The earliest the DNC has said they will sanction other primaries is February 5, 2008. So at least twenty states have now scheduled primaries for that date creating the new "Super Tuesday".

Two states of significance for the number of delegates they have, rebelled against the DNC verdict and scheduled primaries in January. Florida scheduled their primary for January 29th and had their 210 delegates stripped by the DNC. Michigan scheduled their primary for January 15th and have been informed by the DNC if they do not reschedule by January 5th, they will lose their 156 delegates. CQPolitics has a story on this. Click here:

The majority of the Democratic candidates, showing respect of the DNC, have not campaigned in these two states and some will not even appear on their primary ballots.

This is hardly the type of unity the Democrats should be showing after two Presidential elections lost by small margins. This discussion should have been resolved in the three years preceding the kick off of the primary calendar.

All of the states and voters deserve the attention and personal appearances of the Democratic candidates for President. The goal of the DNC to have a front loaded primary schedule so that the Democratic nominee is chosen earlier has prompted states to schedules their elections as early as possible. Otherwise, they may not be graced with the attention of the candidates.

The states with primaries scheduled later in the calendar are faced with the possibility that their vote will not matter by the time their elections are held. This would mean the candidates would most likely not visit or barely visit their states prior to their primary election.

This was the case in Maryland in 2004. Senator John Kerry (Mass.) did not campaign significantly in the state due to their late primary and did not even place delegates on his behalf on the ballot. The Maryland Democratic Party wanting to attract more attention from Presidential candidates to the voters of their state encouraged the Maryland General Assembly to move their primary to February 12, 2008.

Unfortunately this was done prior to the rush by states to the February 5th date and the creation of the new Super Tuesday primary. So in all likelihood, it will be difficult for candidates to pay attention to Maryland when close to half of the states hold their primaries one week earlier.

This has created an incredible long campaign for President with the potential to shut out many voters in many states across the country from the nomination process.

It would be interesting if the results after Super Tuesday would lead to no clear candidate for the nomination. This would require a continuation of the nominating process to include meaningful campaigning in the rest of the states across the country. Maybe after the primaries, the Democrats would be facing a broker-ed national convention that would be something other than a coronation party for their nominee for President.

How refreshing that would be.

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