TO:   DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee

FROM:  Wayne Dowdy, Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman

DATE:  April 14, 2006

SUBJECT:  Pre-Window Proposal


Historically, conventional wisdom favored the adoption of a delegate selection process specifically for those states with large numbers of electoral votes and mathematically created a logical assumption for a Democratic presidential win.  However, the elections of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both proved that our Presidential nominees must carry southern states to win the Presidency.

Mississippi Democrats believe that the delegate selection process should include ours as an early primary state in order to reverse the exclusion of the South in the general election.  The state is changing and Mississippians are generally more receptive to Democratic candidates as evidenced by the 900+ activist turnout for Chairman Dean’s visit in 2005 and the great response to an early visit of John Kerry as a presidential candidate in 2004.  The Mississippi Democratic Party can also boast wins in four special legislative races within the last year defeating well funded Republican backed candidates.  Democrats currently hold 3 of the 8 statewide elected offices and control both the State House and Senate.   Presently, Democrats hold 2 of the 4 Congressional Districts.  Democrats can and do win in Mississippi.

Mississippi is poised to respond to a strong Democratic message from presidential candidates.  Our efforts at economic development, workforce development, physical infrastructure, social infrastructure, cultural and environmental stewardship and civic infrastructure are rapidly modernizing. Mississippi’s time is now.  Mississippi can be the key to Democrats winning the South.

This proposal will detail the racial and ethic diversity, the regional and geographic diversity, the economic diversity, and the practicality and political ability of the state party to achieve the necessary statutory changes in order to achieve an early presidential primary.

Racial and Ethnic Diversity:

According to the 2000 Census figures, Mississippi’s total population stands at 2.8 million residents.  African Americans comprise 36.6% of the total population of the state.  Hispanics comprise 1.4%.  Mississippi has an Asian population of 0.6% and a Native American population of 0.4%.

Moving Mississippi to an early primary state would show a commitment to outreach to include loyal base voters early in the selection process. Mississippi’s racial and ethnic diversity compares favorably to that of the traditional two early primary and caucus states of New Hampshire and Iowa. Both states according to the 2000 census are over 95% white.

Regional and Geographic Diversity:

If the Democratic National Committee is serious about taking back the South for Democrats in a presidential election, then it is important that at least one southern state be designated in the pre-primary window.  We submit that Mississippi gives Democratic candidates the best venue in which to showcase their commitment to the South, and an opportunity for the overwhelmingly loyal Democratic African American base voters to have an early impact in the race for President.

Economic Diversity:

Mississippi is in and of itself economically diverse and provides a variety of economic dimensions many other states do not.  The economic impact on Mississippi’s eighty-two (82) counties is effectuated by tourism, gaming, agriculture, manufacturing, and catfish farming.  Reports from economic experts, such as the Mississippi Development Authority, The University of Southern Mississippi Center for Community and Economic Development, and the Mississippi State University Extension Services supply and validate the data supplied in this proposal. For example, a percentage of the state’s economic base is also linked to its ability to export products.     Although statistical date for 1993-2000 showed fluctuating net percentages in net manufacturing job changes around the state, the per capita income for the year 2000 was $20,920.  Mississippi’s state average unemployment rate change for that same period was twenty-five percent (25%).

An examination of available data reveals that Mississippi exported more than $3.17 billion of products in 2004. Mississippi-made products span the range of manufactured goods, including machinery, chemicals, food products, wood products, and electronics; industrial, commercial, and consumer goods are all produced in Mississippi and are shipped through the state's infrastructure of  highways, railways, and ports, i.e., 2004 Mississippi Exports were to Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Nigeria, China, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Guatemala and Honduras.

According to the document, “ The Contribution of Manufacturing to Mississippi.” prepared by the University of Southern  Mississippi, Center for Community and Economic Development, May, 2001,  Manufacturing is one of the most important segments of Mississippi’s economy, accounting for nearly 243,000 jobs in approximately 4,000 establishments with annual exports of around $2.3 billion.  Manufacturing accounts for 21.2 percent of total nonagricultural employment in Mississippi ranking only behind the service and government sectors in the number of jobs.    With 21.2 percent of all workers in the state employed in manufacturing, Mississippi ranks fourth in the nation in manufacturing employment

In the Mississippi Delta, raising cotton is still a viable option.  Scattered remnants of the regions agrarian heritage are scattered along the highways and byways of the lower Delta.  Larger communities have survived by fostering economic development in education, government and medicine.  Other endeavors such as catfish, poultry, rice, corn and soybean farming have assumed greater importance.  Today, the monetary value of these crops rivals that of cotton production in the lower Mississippi Delta. (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Today, more freshwater aquaculture is found in the Mississippi Delta than in other region of the U.S…Mississippi Catfish Farmers sold 381 million pounds of farm-raised catfish to processing plants in 2001.  The Mississippi Catfish Industry employs more than 3,000 people on catfish farms, more than 3,600 workers in processing plants and 330 in feed mills.  Total number of jobs: 7001).  Total payroll exceeds $102 million, and total industry investments exceed $600 million. (“Economic Impact of the Mississippi Farm-Raised catfish Industry at the Year 2003.”  Mississippi State University Extension Services.)

Gaming has taken a key role in the Mississippi Economic Development upward thrust. Casinos are flourishing throughout Mississippi from Tunica (northwest MS) to Vicksburg and Natchez (southwest Mississippi), on the Indian Reservation in Philadelphia, MS (east) and on the Gulf Coast (south).  Even Hurricane Katrina could not wipe out the spiraling effects of this avenue of economic development for the state.  A report by Dr. Denise Von Hermann entitled, “Gaming in the Mississippi Economy”, June 30, 2000 states, “In the eight full fiscal years since the arrival of casinos, over $3.3 billion in direct gaming taxes have been collected.  In the fiscal year just ended, (FY 2000) casinos paid over $320 million in gaming taxes.  Another $2.5 million in room and restaurant taxes…at least $20 million in annual payroll taxes are paid on behalf of casino employees.  Most casinos pay either tideland leases or levee fees, which add another $9 million annually.  Casinos also collect sales tax on the sale of merchandise.”

Finally, the overall effect of the aforementioned industries contributes to the tourism industry.  The North River region and the Gulf Coast are said to be “predominantly tourism driven…the South River region caters to a local market. Non-residents generated 82% of all gaming revenues in the North River region, and 66% of gaming revenues on the Gulf Coast…Forty-two percent (42%) of non-residents spend one or more nights.”

The MS Development Authority/Tourism Division reports (FY2004) that tourism accounted for 92,400 direct jobs in FY2004; this was a 1.0 percent increase from 2003. Tourisms’ proportion of Mississippi’s FY 2004 General Fund-about $363 million of the $3.5 General Fund- was 10.3 percent, or $1 of every $10.  Moreover, FY 2004 City/County Tourism tax revenues (Room/Restaurant, Gaming and Seawall Tax) were $152.3 million, a 5.7 percent increase over FY 2003 levels.

Implementation Capabilities:

In order to move the Presidential Primary to an earlier date, the Mississippi Democratic Party must seek changes to the state election code.  Clearing the Mississippi House and Senate should not be a problem as Democrats are in a majority in both Chambers and since our state elections are not until November 2007, the makeup of the state legislature will not change prior to the 2007 Legislative session.

Tentative discussions have begun with individuals close to Governor Barbour as to the feasibility of the Governor approving such a change.  Since Governor Barbour is a national Republican figure it is just too early to tell how moving our state’s primary would impact his personal interest in the Republican Presidential Primary, but we are confident that the Governor could be very vocal and active in his support of moving the primary as time progresses. Under Mississippi law, the Presidential Primary is funded completely by the state and local governments but administered by the state party.  Mississippi is a Voting Rights Act state and would need pre-clearance of the change of date by the Justice Department.