|August 14, 2006|
Dear DNC Member:
Thank you for your work and dedication to the Democratic Party. I know we share the same fundamental goal of developing a process to nominate the best and strongest candidate for President in 2008, and to do so in a way that increases diversity early in the calendar.
I am very concerned that the calendar proposed by the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which places a Nevada caucus on the Saturday between Iowa and New Hampshire, could have a highly detrimental impact on the nominating process and exacerbate the significant problem with frontloading, which already makes it difficult for qualified potential candidates to compete. Moreover, by placing Nevada between Iowa and New Hampshire, the DNC will be placing itself on a collision course with the laws of Iowa and New Hampshire, which could result in chaos for the nominating process. That would not be good for voters, for presidential candidates or for the Democratic Party.
As you know, the New Hampshire primary offers all candidates, whether or not they are well funded, whether or not they are nationally known, whether or not they come from big states, a fair shot at making their case to voters. New Hampshire gives candidates a chance to really be heard, and it also gives voters a chance to be heard.
As a swing state that allows Independents to vote in either primary, New Hampshire also provides an opportunity for the Democratic Party to test which of its candidates has the greatest appeal to the national electorate. New Hampshire was the only state in 2004 that switched from red to blue in both the presidential contest and the governor's race, so we are confident that we provide a very strong battleground test.
New Hampshire is in step with the core values of the Democratic Party. We respect working men and women and have consistently rejected so-called right to work legislation. We are strongly pro-choice. Our anti-discrimination laws prohibit employment or housing discrimination for any reason, including sexual orientation. Our laws also ensure that we have among the nation's most secure and open voting systems with same-day registration and back-up paper ballots.
For all these reasons, a chorus of past, present and future candidates have spoken out in recent months in favor of protecting New Hampshire's tradition. A number of potential 2008 candidates have opposed any change to Iowa and New Hampshire's positions in the nominating calendar. It makes no sense for the DNC to ignore the advice of its own leading candidates for President.
A few weeks ago, President Bill Clinton eloquently urged the DNC to retain the Iowa-New Hampshire sequence and not place any other state in between. He said:
"The most compelling reason for supporting this is not the affection I feel, and not the loyalty. It is what I believe it takes to make a good President and a political process that has integrity. You've got to have some time to actually listen to voters. I respect the work of the (DNC rules committee). I know they're under a lot of pressure, but I think they should leave Iowa and New Hampshire alone. (In New Hampshire) you've got to go into the homes, into the cafes, into the meeting rooms, and you have to have town hall meetings, and you have to listen to voters as well as talk to them. You have to hear the way they speak about what's going on. The retail campaign here in New Hampshire makes every single person who runs for President better informed, better able to speak in a language and in a manner that people understand. You really come to know yourself and know America more if you have to do some campaigning the old-fashioned way.It is also important that DNC members understand that placing another state's caucus or primary between Iowa and New Hampshire could conflict with New Hampshire law in such a manner as to cause disruption in the entire nominating process. New Hampshire's law reads:
Almost no matter what you do, if you move something ahead of New Hampshire, you are, by definition, going to minimize the amount of time for retail, one-on-one, small group politicking, not only in New Hampshire but in Iowa. I think it's something unique in preparing people to be not only better candidates, but to be better Presidents. I worry about the continued compressing of the calendar robbing the candidates of the opportunity to do what they have to do."
The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a Tuesday selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier, of each year when a president of the United States is to be elected or the year previous. (NH RSA 653:9)In New Hampshire, the primary is a state-run election and the Secretary of State - who is independently elected by the Republican-controlled legislature - has the sole authority to determine what is a similar election and to set the date of the primary.
New Hampshire has never sought to have the last word in the nominating process. We simply wish to maintain a tradition and to continue to give all potential presidential candidates an open and fair chance. I strongly believe that New Hampshire's tradition can be maintained while meeting the goals of diversity and increasing participation in the nominating process across the nation. By frontloading the process even further, this plan may prevent potential candidates from running and will decrease the impact of other nominating contests across the nation.
We recognize that the current calendar is not perfect, and we in New Hampshire have tried to play a constructive role to improve it.
Again, I urge you to carefully consider the recommendations
of the Rules and Bylaws committee and the serious, negative ramifications
of their adoption by the DNC. Our party can strengthen its nominating
process and increase diversity. The plan now before you is the wrong
way to do it.
John H. Lynch