OF LETTER from U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and DNC Member Debbie Dingell
September 4, 2007
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman, Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Governor Dean,
America has many
strengths. Two of its greatest are our strong democratic traditions,
and the rich diversity of our people. We Democrats take pride in the
fact that, of the two major parties, we best represent this diversity.
It is therefore hard to
understand how one of our most important
democratic processes -- the nomination of our candidates for the
presidency -- has been unduly dominated by two states, neither of
which is particularly reflective of this diversity.
New Hampshire and Iowa have had a
disproportionate impact on our presidential nominating process~ with
access to candidates and visits from candidates than probably all the
states combined during the primary and caucus season. Other states,
including Michigan, have issues critically
important to them. These states would like candidates seeking their
understand.and address these issues, and urged the DNC to make the
process more democratic
and thereby more reflective of our diversity.
The DNC approached this issue
cautiously and with due diligence.
A Commission representing diverse party constituents was
appointed to make recommendations. The Commission then held a series of
comprehensive public hearings. Ultimately, the Commission recommended a
change in the traditional schedule, which New Hampshire opposed. It
recommended that two
caucuses be held, then
two primaries, and then the "window"
for the rest of the states would open.
On August 19, 2006, the
Democratic National Committee (DNC) set
the dates for the selection of delegates to the 2008 Democratic
convention as follows:
· at Iowa
caucuses held no earlier than January 14,2008;
· at Nevada
caucuses held no earlier than January 19;
· at a New Hampshire
primary held no earlier than January 22; and
· at a South Carolina
primary held no earlier than January 29.
The rest of the states could then hold their caucuses or
primaries to select their delegates after the opening of the ''window''
Michigan Democrats, while
disappointed our state was not
selected as one of the four "pre-window" states, announced we would
abide by the DNC calendar, unless New Hampshire or another state
ignore the rule establishing that sequence and that calendar.
On August 9, New Hampshire's
Secretary of State, with the support of the state's
Democrats, indicated that he was going to hold the New Hampshire
primary before January
19, 2008, a clear violation of the DNC rules. This announcement was
made at a
joint public ceremony and in partnership with South Carolina
had announced that they would hold their GOP primary on January 19.
One of New Hampshire's purposes
was to push the New Hampshire primary ahead of
caucus which the DNC's rule had scheduled for January 19. New
Hampshire's transparent action reflected its determination to maintain
its privileged position of going immediately after Iowa, despite the
Those of us who fought hard to
stranglehold of New Hampshire
on the process saw you stand by silently.
But when the Florida
legislature changed the date of the Florida
primary to a date before the window opened, you promptly determined to
Florida Democrats by threatening to not seat their delegates if they
their legislature's decision. You still maintained public
silence about the New Hampshire Secretary of State's decision to
violate the DNC rules, a decision, again, which was supported by New
national party began the process of taking
that gun away from the heads of our candidates when we changed the
put New Hampshire
third instead of second in the period prior to the opening of the
battle that we fought was over the sequence of the primaries and
caucuses. New Hampshire either
pushing ahead of its assigned position or increasing the distance
primary and the opening of the window for the rest of the states
purpose of the rule.
It was a hard won, albeit
partial, victory, allowing our party
to better reflect the diversity of America and to begin to inject some
fairness in a process for states whose role had been diminished
election by the dominance of two states.
Michigan Democrats are determined
to fight to maintain that
victory. We object to your continued silence in the face of New
intent to violate the DNC rules. As Chairman of the Democratic Party,
the obligation to state your intent to apply the rule to New Hampshire
Democrats when its Secretary of State announced his intention
to move the New Hampshire
primary prior to January 19. Selective enforcement of our rules
undermines the progress achieved -- to open the process potentially for
We have not seen any public
statement from the DNC following New Hampshire's
announcement on August 9 that they would move their primary before
in clear violation of the DNC rules. Your silence in the face of
New Hampshire's action is a stunning contrast
to the DNC's reaction to Florida.
In the face of New Hampshire's
decision to violate the DNC rules and your silence
concerning that decision, and given our strong feelings about the need
to reform our
nominating process to make it fairer, Michigan's
Democratic leadership decided to elect our delegates on January 15,
date the Michigan legislature set for the Michigan primary. (See
Someone has to take on New
Hampshire's transparent effort to violate the DNC
rules and to maintain its privileged position. Hopefully the DNC will,
will, promptly urge our candidates to stop campaigning in New Hampshire
because of the New Hampshire's
expressed intent to violate the DNC rules.