WGA Policy Resolution 04-13

Western States Presidential Caucus/Primary

June 22, 2004

Santa Fe, New Mexico
SPONSOR: Governor Richardson


1. Along with the Federal Election Commission, the major political parties play a large part in establishing the rules for the nominating process for the nation’s Presidency.  The parties establish the rules state primaries and party caucuses must follow and the date window within which primaries and caucuses must be held.

2. The rules of both of the major parties give preferential treatment to Iowa and New Hampshire allowing them to hold the first Presidential primary and caucus elections every four years.  Other state primaries and party caucuses follow.

3. In the last four election cycles, more and more states have moved their primary or caucus dates earlier in an attempt to have an impact on the candidates that are selected as the parties’ nominees. As a result, the parties’ nominees are selected early in the date window allowed by parties. States that hold their caucus or primary later in the date window have no influence on who the parties’ nominee will be.

4. One of the results of voters feeling like they have no influence in helping select the parties’ nominees is low voter turnout.  Just 17.7 percent of eligible voters turned out during the primary season in 2000.  This was an improvement over the 16.9 percent who participated in 1996, but still the second lowest percentage since 1960.

5. At a Western Governors meeting in February 2004, the Governors agreed to explore creating a common date for caucuses and primaries for the Presidential candidate nomination process in 2008.  The Governors felt that more states banding together in 2008 could help draw attention to western issues including public lands, energy, water, and tribal issues.


1. Voters in Western states should have an equal say in who the party nominees are for President.

2. Western Governors urge the major political parties to examine reforms to the nominating process rules that will encourage voter participation and encourage a discussion among the candidates for the parties’ nomination of issues unique to each region of the country.

3. Western Governors support states and state political parties in the region examining the idea of a common date for interested states and parties to hold their primaries and caucuses in order to draw attention to western issues.


1. WGA is directed to provide staff support to any group of interested western states that choose to work together to select a common caucus/primary date for the 2008 Presidential nominating process.

2. This resolution shall be sent to the national chairmen of major political parties, the chairmen of the western state political parties and the western secretaries of state.