September 2, 2007

Top Democrats To Punish Florida, Michigan

On Friday, three also-ran Democractic presidential candidates vowed to skip campaigning in Michigan and Florida after the DNC sanctioned the states for breaking rules on primary schedules. The impact of that pledge seemed marginal at best. It would take the top three candidates signing the pledge for it to have any effect -- and surprisingly, they have signed it:

The Democratic candidates have signed a pledge that would forbid them from campaigning in states such as Michigan and Florida that have sought to move their presidential primaries into January 2008.

The move ended weeks-long jockeying over which states get to hold early primaries.

Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the four states that had been designated by the Democratic National Committee to hold early primaries, demanded in letters Friday that the candidates not participate in the early primaries of other states. The candidates either had to sign the pledge or risk annoying officials in those key states.

Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.), along with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, signed the pledge within hours on Friday. By yesterday, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, had joined them.

Why would the three top-tier candidates go out of their way to antagonize Michigan and Florida, which will prove crucial in the general election? The four official early-primary states started putting pressure on them to do so. As much as it pains them to potentially handicap themselves in Michigan and Florida, none of them can afford to make enemies in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Will it convince Michigan and Florida to reverse themselves? Possibly, although it seems unlikely. This dispute has been building for some time, and the DNC's addition of Nevada and South Carolina to the early schedule set off a chain reaction of anger and envy that will probably wind up destroying the primary system. By November, we will likely see at least two states scheduling primaries or caucuses between Thanksgiving and Christmas, unless candidates of both parties force the states to start acting responsibly.

Donna Brazile, a member of the DNC Rules Committee, argued yesterday that punishing rogue states is the only way to contain the chaos:

In the end, the DNC chose Nevada and South Carolina to bring further regional, racial and economic diversity to the "pre-window" primary period. Florida's plan to move its primary forward represented a unilateral move that would completely disrupt the system on which everyone had agreed. The rules and bylaws committee had no choice but to enforce the rules. Our recommendation is not the end of the line for Florida. Indeed, the state has 30 days to bring its plan into compliance.

Despite claims to the contrary, the DNC is on firm legal ground. The question was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, when it ruled that the national parties, not the states, determine the rules governing their respective presidential nominating processes. Failure to apply the rules would have been an affront to the states that adhered to them -- and an invitation for more states to break them. Even after our firm action, the Michigan House went ahead and approved a measure this week to move the state's primary up to Jan. 15, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm (a Democrat) said she will sign it. Wyoming is still making noises about moving its date to Jan. 5.

Unfortunately, the DNC had a hand in creating this problem by tinkering with what even Brazile acknowledges as a bad system, rather than working with the RNC to develop a better system. They gave the impetus to states to take unilateral action with the silly contest to see which states could provide better "diversity" -- and selecting Nevada, the 35th state in terms of population, and a state where blacks only comprise less than 7% of the population, less than half that of the national average. The DNC decided to start playing games, and the rest of the states followed along.

Still, it's impressive that the top three Democratic candidates signed the pledge. Will it convince these two states to rescind their early elections, or stop other states from making similar changes? I'm betting it won't -- but two days ago, I would have bet that neither Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would have signed the pledge.


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Comments (18)

Posted by Ann | September 2, 2007 9:49 AM

Hasn't Michigan been punished enough?

Hats off to Appalachian State!

Posted by richard mcenroe | September 2, 2007 10:28 AM

Bad enough that the Democratic Party tells its members who they voted for, now they want to tell them when>? The big bullies...

Posted by Brian the Adequate | September 2, 2007 10:54 AM

I hope they don't relent, I hope that more states join them until the current system completely and utterly collapses.

I have been eligible to vote since the 1988 election, but as a citizen of Indiana I have never in my life had any say whatsoever in who the nominees are for either party.

If the primary system is continued, then there should be some sort of a rotation of states. It drives me nuts that we hold on to the stupid tradition of Iowa and NH having such a huge influence while other states are effectively shut out. The best part is since federal tax dollars go to the parties (also wrong) to fund the system, I get the joy of helping pay to be disenfranchised.

It may wreak havoc on this election, but for the future good let it fail, let it fail, Lord God almighty let it fail.

Posted by clarice | September 2, 2007 11:01 AM

It is preposterous that NH and Iowa have such influence, I agree. OTOH really can the parties ignore the results of this unapproved early primaries? Seems a toothless threat to me.

Posted by Daniel Messing | September 2, 2007 11:13 AM

"Failure to apply the rules would have been an affront to the states that adhered to them" -- gosh, isn't that what the legal immigrants said about the illigals?

Posted by pedantic | September 2, 2007 11:23 AM

>> "Failure to apply the rules would have been an affront to the states that adhered to them" -- gosh, isn't that what the legal immigrants said about the illigals?

HEY! You can't go using consistency and principle when daling with Democrats. It's not allowed.

Remember: whatever they say three times is true.

Posted by Shoprat | September 2, 2007 11:33 AM

The Democrats need to tread carefully here in Michigan for two reasons:

1) The voters here are very unhappy with everyone and the Democrats don't want to upset them much more.

2) While Michigan usually votes Democrat it is actually a "purple" state that is economically blue and culturally red and it could easily be convinced to go the other way if the Democrats snub us.

Posted by The Yell | September 2, 2007 11:56 AM

"Despite claims to the contrary, the DNC is on firm legal ground. The question was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, when it ruled that the national parties, not the states, determine the rules governing their respective presidential nominating processes. "


Scalia, maybe Thomas, maybe Roberts will hold true to the "settled" cases of the Burger Court.

Anybody else is up in the air. Freedom to buy political ads was settled. Protection from eminent domain transfers to corporate owners was settled. The status of enemy combatants as outside the Constitution was settled. Sodomy was settled. Execution of teenagers was settled.

Who is she kidding?

Posted by athingortwo | September 2, 2007 12:06 PM

I can't speak for Michigan, or Wyoming (which just set its Republican primary to January 5, 2008), but here in Florida, there is no reason that the Governor or the Legislature (completely dominated by Republicans) will back down to the DNC.

The RNC, now watching the DNC self-immolate over its misguided loyalty to a couple of small rural states, is much less likely now to "me too" this issue with the DNC, and will likely announce very soon that it will fully seat the Florida, Michigan, and Wyoming delegates to the convention ... if for no other reason than to stick it to the Dems and their candidates.

Regardless of the 1981 court ruling, which like any other court ruling is subject to reinterpretation and overturning by the very different court we have today, the National Parties cannot compel states to schedule elections on certain dates. That is because the Constitution clearly gives all rights for setting the manner and the dates of elections, other than the Presidential final election, to either the Federal government, or to the States ... there is not a single word in the Constitution about political parties or their rights, since parties did not even exist as an institution in the US in 1787 when the Constitution was ratified. The ratifiers expressly stated their desire to not see parties ("factions") form and come to dominate the government.

When this litigation comes before the Supreme Court later this year - as it almost certainly will - the Court will be forced to weigh the interests and rights of the national parties against the interests and rights of the States and the People to set their own elections, at their own expense, according to their own schedules and interests.

The only way for this issue to be resolved other than through a Supreme Court ruling, then, will be if the Congress passes a law regulating the scheduling of the Primary contests. This would also require a Presidential signature, or at least lack of a veto, taking the issue entirely out of the hands of both the Parties and the States.

I would say that the chances of such a law passing this Congress, in these politically overheated times, is pretty close to zero.

This issue is already being litigated - a Democratic Party activist in Florida has already filed a Federal lawsuit against the DNC. I imagine that the State of Florida, likely joining in with the States of Michigan and Wyoming, will likewise file their own lawsuits that may or may not be combined with the existing private citizen lawsuit.

Hold on to your hats, folks. Depending upon how the litigation proceeds, the Dem candidates may very well recant their allegiance to the DNC. If they don't do that soon, the Dems will hand the 2008 election to the Republicans, who cannot lose with both Florida and Michigan on the red side of the tally ... plus there's also the tantalizing prospect of California voters passing the referendum to allocate the State's electoral votes by Congressional District.

All manner of predictability to the 2008 elections, such as it may have been, is now out the window. It will be fun to watch!

Posted by Lew | September 2, 2007 12:32 PM

I agree with Brian, let it fail! I would only add that public money should NEVER go to fund political parties or any other private entity, for that matter.

I am convinced that one of the worst innovations of the so-called "Progressive Era" was the public primary election to determine party endorsements. A hundred years after the fact, we now have this insane mud-wrestling match/pandering contest called a "campaign", at the end of which each party will hold a completely meaningless national convention to celebrate the endorsement of a candidate they didn't choose. Political parties are private organizations in the same sense that the NAACP or the Sierra Club are private organizations, so why on earth can't they endorse whomever they choose by their own rules?

Why do they have to endure the insanity of having their endorsements jammed down their throats by a mass of "BarcaLounger Warriors" who never showed up at a caucus or a town-hall meeting or contributed one red cent or one minute of their time?

In a larger sense, I suppose this is just another straw in the wind of much deeper and longer-term significance. Over the last hundred years, our technology and our institutions have made it ever easier and easier for us NOT to talk to each other directly. We can sit in the solitude of our living rooms and watch "debates" that aren't really debates. We can mail in our votes from home or vacation without even appearing at our local polling place. We can mail in a check to our chosen favorite without ever meeting them. We can listen to our heroes being interviewed by TV personalities and pretend that we know them. And we can express our frustration and outrage from the comfort of our den on a quiet Sunday morning. And ALL of these things we can do without talking to a single human being face-to-face, while we convince ourselves that we are actively participating in the issues of our day.

And all along the way, we are slowly and insidiously losing the ability to talk to each other as neighbors about things we see differently. Armed with our little self-righteous snobbery that "Politics is beneath my dignity", we don't go to caucuses and we don't go to town meetings and we don't get involved and we don't argue opinions with our neighbors. We are losing the ability to conduct the most basic and fundamental political act of all; the conversation over the back fence. As a result, I fear that we as a people are losing the ability to argue without fighting!

And the public primary election is just another way for us to not participate in formulating and making the decisions of our generation. It allows us to mail in our ballot and say we did our part without ever actually talking to anyone.

"Abstract Democracy" and "Arms-Length Politics" are oxymoronic in the same sense as "Abstract Sex". It is a lifeless dead end!

Posted by feeblemind | September 2, 2007 12:55 PM

DNC will back down and not punish anyone. They won't want to ne seen disenfranchising voters in important states like Michigan or Fla.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 2, 2007 1:02 PM

You know what I love about the future? You can't call it just by guessing, and using wishful thinking as your guide. The reasons are complicated. But trust me. No one has a lock on what's gonna happen t'marra.

While the playing field, such as it is, did get a few ruffled feathers with Larry Craig's hand signals. You don't want to call them "hand signals?" You think only the deaf are licensed to use a system completely incomprehensible to those not hearing impaired? See if I care.

Public opinion wll always go all over the map.

And, Abraham Lincoln, in order to enjoy public opinion, spent more time OUT of the Oval Office, than any other president in our history.

He just didn't want to wait for the servants to appear with the news packets. He went out. And, he traveled all over. Just to "bathe in public opinion."

Ah, and "Malice Towards None." Lincoln lived that one. He never ridiculed others, whose opinions differed from his own. What he did, though. Because "differing opinions" were standard in his cabinet meetings. Was to let everything fly. But he then understood the FIRST RULE. Only he, decides.

What we're seeing now?

Looks like a traffic accident.

The GOP knew it was not getting the money raised, that it used to raise out in the grass-roots.

The GOP also knows that coming into 2008, you have a senate that can go from "one seat difference" for minority to majority status. To a LOSS OF FIVE. And, the Bonkeys, for some reason, are now counting Larry Craig's seat as "lost."

Or to put it another way, which was done up at a Drudge link; without lot'sa cash rolling in. IF the GOP has to create the "firewall" at Idaho; instead of counting on Larry Craig's "once-upon-a-time" shoo-in status; then it's gonna be costly battles.

Of course, we have the Internet. ANd, Mr. Frugal, himself, Fred Thompson. People will be watching who can get ahead by pressing the fewest nickels. (Okay. I'm guessing the future.) So, I'll qualify that. I don't know what's gonna happen t'marra.

But it sure looks like its getting interesting.

What makes you think Harry Reid's popular outside of Nevada?

What makes you think Hillary would be an ideal presidential candidate? And, if you saw her negatives, isn't it possible there are Bonkey "defenders" out there, who see this, too?

Sometimes, I think the GOP has way too many queens within, who get nervous about everything. Why is that? I dunno. Rove doesn't look like someone who gets nervous very easily. And, the GOP did pick Minnesota for their convention.

But it seems, for some reason unknown to me, the GOP walks around with this elephant's sized ass, where they seem graceless. Unwillinhg to take on the contest ahead. Where if they just barrel forward, and roar through their nose; the sounds are known to scare the beasts in the forests, away.

The more interesting, and oompetitive you make this race, THE BETTER!

Do you know Warner's seat in Virginia (another one that has the "queens" twitering in nervousness; is the Bonkey's candidate "could be" Mark Warner. Except for now he's holding out for the veep slot on the Bonkey's ticket. Can't do two? I wonder why? Lieberman, I thought, set the gold standard, back in 2004. But what do I know? He already had the senate seat.

As to the "shadings" ahead; I'd like to see how far the Bonkeys actually get. Because I think the affirmative action crowd, not dizzy enough, yet, from blow-back, has more problems stackinbg up against them.

Now, here? For instance, if Rudy becomes the GOP nominee. Wouldn't people think he'd get along with any congress that came to pass? In other words, tally this up. Rudy makes it easier, or harder for GOP candidates, elsewhere. If there is a tendency for voters to try to keep DC split down the middle?

Dunno. Ah, and neither do you. Cause it all happens, t'marra. We know the sun rises. Why can't we know more? And, why is it so risky to gamble?

Posted by Clyde | September 2, 2007 1:45 PM

Donna Brazile: "Florida's plan to move its primary forward represented a unilateral move that would completely disrupt the system on which everyone had agreed."

Hmmmmm... Who is this "everyone" of whom you speak, Donna? Apparently you think that "everyone" and "Florida" are two mutually exclusive sets. Incorrect.

There are a lot of people in a lot of states who are tired of the tail (and other small appendages) wagging the dog, in terms of selecting presidential nominees. The dog has just deposited a big Number Two on your papers. I hope you have a pooper scooper handy.

Posted by Ray | September 2, 2007 1:51 PM

Primaries are structured to reduce competition in general elections, on both a national and a local level. Both the DNC and the RNC were created to reduce the competition amongst the candidates themselves. both within the respective party and between the major parties. They where created to tell people who to vote for, not to help them elect their desired candidate. This was done for one reason only; to strengthen the respective parties on a national level, regardless of the voter's wants and needs. Now that states are beginning to show a renewed interest for increased competition in elections, especially Presidential elections, the parties are crying foul and issuing threats. They realize that the national parties are loosing power and are unwilling to return control of the voting process to the individual states. That's only going to hasten their collapse. The American people are getting tired of being offered such a narrow field of candidates and they are trying to regain control over the very process of electing their representatives in government. Both parties better listen to these people and adapt their strategies accordingly or they will soon go the way of the Dodo Bird.

Posted by Neo | September 2, 2007 2:09 PM

The "permanent campaign" continues.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 2, 2007 2:40 PM

Taking it from there, Neo, I'd like to point out the "permanent campaign" continues. Because algore is a sore loser.

Perhaps, it's going unnoticed? But the Bonkeys have been fighting Bush tooth and nail. Taking positions that look to me to be more like Waterloo, than anything else.

Sure. We've got an early campaign going now. Why? Bush wasn't all that popular. He's made mistakes, as well. And, he seems clueless when it comes to the pulses around this nation; to say nothing of his own party's constituents. Maybe, he wanted the job because he likes the music?

He get's all patriotic when the band plays "Hail to the Chief?

He's sure managed to turn off the money spigot, that once enriched the campaigns of republicans. Believe it or not, this was like disovering the "fountain of youth," to the country club repubicans. Who saw more money than they had in their trust accounts.

But the public's low on trust these days.

And, the early campaigning broke out when Bush's numbers slipped to the point that it looked like they weren't even gonna be resuscitated. Then, the idiot Harry Reid decided that the whole country would follow the affirmative action crowd, if only he could finally destroy Bush. Which congress-critters do by tossing laws around. And, running for headlines in the New yuk Times.

Like Waterloo, this particular battle doesn't have the "high ground." And, it's a trap.

Some in DC are figuring this out. (Heck, Larry Craig just recognized he wasn't gonna be a shoo-in in Idaho. And, what was clipped from him was his re-election funds.) Don't laugh. Campaigns need gas. Money. More than they need gas-bags running for office.

We are having an early cycle because people are paying attention. And, people also seem to want to change things.

To the point? The Bonkeys are now meeting with their members; and you'll see a whole campaign devoted to "infrastructure" instead of pork.

What happens if the people don't believe a word?

Once the process of the presidency comes back to order; like it did with Lincoln's election in 1860 ... even the bad stuff doesn't overturn the apple cart.

But both Bush's proved to be turkeys. And, they got there? By using the inner workings of GOP politics.

McCain wa furious. And, planned, oddly enough, to run for the presidency he, too, like algore, felt was "deprived" him. Sore losers.

And, McCain overstated his powers when it came to immigration. While Bush demostrated his lack of will, on ditto.

I'm all for this "early campaign" here. Bush's numbers, by the way, go back up on the mistakes made by the Ma & Pa Kettle Show. Which shows ya. SOmetimes, on the road of life, you meet others who are very bad drivers. Sometimes? It gives ya lucky breaks.

My guess, ahead? The Bonkeys will still run against Bush. And, they'll also run against Larry Craig. Good for the affirmative action crowd, because it brings them out in droves. But a parade is still just a parade. Doesn't amount to a hill of beans to others, outside of the "revelers." At least I think so.

And, you couldn't have a "permanent campaign" if the public, at large, was disinterested.

Posted by Joseph Bell | September 3, 2007 2:46 AM

What does any state, other than Iowa and NH, have to lose by moving their primary up and not getting delegates?

If the process makes their state primary irrelevant, there is nothing to lose if they break the primary system. Let the national party bar their delegates and undermine the credibility of the free publicity event they call a "convention."

I think Iowa and NH should be at the back of any primary rotation for the next 4 elections.

Posted by Panentheist | September 3, 2007 7:38 AM

I may be very wrong BUT I LOVE THIS..

Maybe this will get the die-hard Democrats in Michigan and Florida to re-think their loyalties to the people they elect and use a more "rational" approach and vote for the best "qualified" (character included) candidates instead of voting on a partisan basis.

DNC chairman Dean is supporting and urging ISNA members to run for political office..

He represents the best in Democrats in character, knowledge, and arrogance..

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