Today, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee met to approve delegate selection plans for the 2008 Presidential nominating process. While it is usually a mundane process about percentages and process, today's meeting held additional significance.
Over the past several years, a process has been underway for Iowa and New Hampshire to share the "pre-window" period, which is the date before which no State Party is allowed to hold its nominating contest. The date for 2008 is January 5 and only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina are allowed to hold their caucuses and primaries.
South Carolina and Nevada were chosen mainly because they added the voice of minorities to the very important early contests. Nevada has a significant Latino/Hispanic population. In South Carolina, African Americans are expected to make up as much as half of the Primary vote.
However, Florida's legislature passed a law moving their Primary to a date before February 5. I previously wrote that the Florida Democratic Party was a 'rogue' Party. I regret having used such strong language. Florida faces a ballot initiative on January 29, 2008 that the Democratic Party vigorously opposes. It seems as though they were hoping to use the turnout from a Presidential Primary to defeat this initiative.
While I understand the motivations of the Florida Party, that is not justification for violating the generations-old pre-window period. Every State faces its own challenges without the expectation that the Presidential nominating process of its party be altered to meet their specific needs.
Accordingly, the Rules and By-Laws Committee gave the Florida Democratic Party thirty days to amend their delegate selection plan to conform with Party Rules or risk a 100% penalty of their delegates to the 2008 National Convention. This means that, unless they respect the pre-window, no delegates from Florida will be seated at the Convention.
This is significant. Very significant. Today's meeting was about sending a strong message that the Party nominating calendar will be honored. That message was emphatically sent.
The Michigan Democratic Party is the next that could be affected. While their plan today received conditional approval, there is a bill on the way through their legislature to move their Primary to January 15, in violation of Party Rules. Today's actions should put the skids on that effort.
Michigan Democratic Party Chair, Mark Brewer has been playing a dangerous game that could endanger his reputation. While putting out a statement saying the MDP vigorously opposes the "Republican plan" that passed the State Senate, he failed to mention that, on the substantive issue of the date of the primary, all Senate Democrats voted FOR the January 15 date.
Further, Governor Jennifer Granholm's office confirms that Democratic Party officials in Michigan, in a conference call, agreed in principle that Michigan's Presidential Primary should be changed in order to make it a significant part of the the nomination process.
Florida's argument is much stronger than Michigan's as to whether they should receive a waiver to the Rules. Therefore, Chairman Brewer and the Michigan Democratic Party should take notice of the action today by the DNC. They appear to have no patience for the violation of the Primary calendar set by them after years on input.