Finalize Ground Rules for 2004
Washington, DC – The full Democratic National Committee approved the
party's 2004 delegate selection rules on Jan. 19, 2002 at its winter meeting
in Washington, DC. DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee co-chair Carol
Khare said the rules reflect Terry McAuliffe's "determination to produce
a delegate selection plan that will give us a winning nominee." Party
spokeswoman Maria Cardona said the 2004 rules will "give our state parties
a level playing field with the Republicans." While critics have suggested
the Democratic rules will encourage further frontloading, Cardona stated
that, "We are not encouraging any state parties to move up."
Before the full DNC approved the rules, however, the Rules and Bylaws
Committee, meeting on Jan. 18, 2002, heard from two party members opposed
to them and held further discussion. Chuck Ross, national committeman
from Vermont, urged the Rules and Bylaws Committee to reconsider the rules
so that "voices of Democrats from smaller states" are not diminished.
Mark Brewer, committee member and chair of the Michigan Democratic Party,
proposed an amendment, seconded by Ohio Democratic Party chair David Leland,
to end the "unfair monopoly" of Iowa and New Hampshire. Brewer argued
that the special privileges granted the two states "violate the very charter
of our party." "Tradition in a democracy must yield to fairness and
equal treatment," Brewer said. John Willis, committee member and
Maryland Secretary of State, noted for the record that the National Association
of Secretaries of State's proposal for a rotating regional primary remains
an option for the future. However, Harold Ickes, captured the sense
of the committee when he said any proposals for change were "coming very
late in the game" and that "people want to get this settled."
Rules and Bylaws Committee
member John Willis and Joe Carmichael talk after the Jan. 18 meeting.
|Committee member Donna Brazile
talks with David Broder of the Washington Post and Carl Leubsdorf
of the Dallas Morning News.
|Committee members Harold
Ickes and Don Fowler talk as political writer Rhodes Cook listens in.
The debate over the 2004 rules was not done yet, however. During
the DNC general session on Jan. 19, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) made a spirited
case against the exemptions for Iowa and New Hampshire. "No states
should have greater access to our candidates than any other state," Levin
said, calling for "elimination of this perpetual privilege." Levin
suggested that in 2004 a state should hold its primary the same day as
New Hampshire in order to challenge the rules, but he noted that Michigan
had backed off from such a move in 2000 for fear of jeopardizing its seating
at the convention. He also suggested taking the issue before the
convention. Opposing this view, former DNC chair Don Fowler urged
support of the Rules and Bylaws Committee report, outlining some of this
history and rationale behind the rules.
The full DNC rejected the proposed amendment and approved the report.
The Democrats' move prompted
some sharply unfavorable editorial comment. The Los Angeles Times
termed the plan "Primarily, a Bad Idea." The New York Times
(Jan. 6, 2002) proclaimed that, "The nation is moving toward the worst
possible scenario -- one big, diffuse presidential primary held in the
dead of winter, where only the candidates with large amounts of ready cash
need apply." USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro (Jan.
16, 2002) opined, "The real losers under the Democrats' new calendar
are not the candidates but the electorate."
Copyright 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy