Beltway Happenings    ...3 of 6 >
July 22, 2006--Joe Erwin, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party brought small bags of peaches for members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting.  "It's not a gift of great economic value, just good Southern hospitality from South Carolina," Erwin said.  Erwin organized "a personal campaign, nothing over the top" to lobby members of the Committee over the past week and a half.   South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn was also present for much of this meeting.  The Rules and Bylaws Committee itself has two South Carolinians as members: Carol Khare Fowler, a former Rules and Bylaws Committee chair, and Don Fowler, a former DNC chair. 
South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus letter
South Carolina Conference of Black Mayors letter
DC Vote activists
South Carolina Chair Joe Erwin
Michigan's Mark Brewer
Discussion of opening date of pre-window period
Kathy Sullivan (NH) and Sally Pederson (IA)
Democratic National Committee

Democracy in Action: Why would the Committee want to put South Carolina first?

Joe Erwin: Well a lot of reasons.

Number one, in South Carolina we control the calendar.  We don't require legislative approval unlike the other states in the South that have applied.  So we can go on whatever date the DNC would like for us to go because no legislative approval--it's a party-run primary; everybody else is a state-run primary.  That's number one.

Number two.  We've got a proven track record.  We did this in 2004.  Opened all 1,956 polling places.  People said it couldn't be done.  We did it with 6,000 volunteers, got Justice Department pre-clearance which is very important.  So I think between the track record and the experience and the flexibility that we give the DNC, it was a great primary for voters, for candidates and for the media frankly.  It works and so we think we're a logical choice to go again.

Democracy in Action: And have you been lobbying the members of this Committee a lot?

Joe Erwin: Yeah, well the last week and a half.  We've had a group I call Team South Carolina.  I've recruited some of the people that work inside the Beltway who ware South Carolinians by birth or by belief, and we've been calling individuals sending them notes and just making our best case for why we think we're a great choice for the DNC, trying not to overwhelm anybody with 100 phone calls--I think that's rude--and also trying to frankly to do it with politeness and with a team spirit.  I don't want to throw anybody under the bus.  I respect what Alabama's doing and Mississippi and everybody else.  So we're swimming our own race; I'm not going to criticize any other state.  We're proud of Iowa and New Hampshire; we just want to be a part of it.  We think we offer that racial diversity early in the process that we think is very very important in the Democratic Party.

Democracy in Action: Who are some of those folks here in DC?

Joe Erwin: You probably know Jenny Backus...Mike McCurry...Donnie Fowler...and just a handful of others.  And then my elected officials, John Spratt and Jim Clyburn, some of the most powerful and important members of the Congress; I enlisted their support.  Former Governor and Education Secretary Dick Riley.  So a combination of some political pros and some friends that know some of the people on the Committee.  And its just been a personal campaign, nothing over the top.
Copyright © 2006  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action