Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Democratic Change Commission Meeting This Weekend

According to this article in the Helena Independent Record, Montana secretary of state, Linda McCulloch, is off to Washington for a meeting of the Democratic Change Commission. The commission was formed to examine three things:
  1. The window of time in which presidential nomination contests are held. [This is where frontloading would be a part of the broader discussion.]
  2. The impact of superdelegates
  3. The caucus system
None of the problems will be fixed this weekend and may not be by the summer of 2010 when recommendations are likely to start emerging. But this is a starting point nonetheless.

McCulloch departs for Washington with some fairly specific ideas.

On Montana's position in 2008 and before:
“Last time, Montana was a player,” McCulloch said, “Now that we’ve been a player, I want to see it continue.”

McCulloch questioned the fairness of having some states holding their primaries and caucuses first every year, referring to New Hampshire and Iowa, and others holding their elections last, as Montana does.
[Montana did try unsuccessfully to move its 2008 presidential primary into February or March. The bill, coincidentally enough, would have given the secretary of state the power to set the date of the state's primary in either of those earlier months. After passing the House in the state legislature, though, the bill died in committee in the Senate. It should be noted that she was not secretary of state at the time. Montana Republicans, in fact, held a caucus and held it on Super Tuesday. But...]

On caucuses:
McCulloch said she prefers primary elections to caucuses in presidential races.

“I’m not a big fan of the caucus procedure, because it includes a few people rather than all the people,” she said. “My focus is to make sure more people vote, more people participate.”
[So, it would appear that circumventing the state legislature by holding a caucus -- as Montana Republicans did in 2008 -- is not the secretary of state's preferred method of dealing with this. It is good way to avoid the partisanship problems that tend to plague state legislatures attempting to shift their presidential primaries, however.]

And on superdelegates...
She’s also not wild about designating top party officials, senators, congressmen and governors as “superdelegates” by virtue of the positions. They automatically become delegates at the national convention.

“It goes against the grain of my belief that everyone should have an equal vote and be equal,” McCulloch said. “In voting, everyone is equal. Everyone is a superdelegate.”
[I need to look at how many former superdelegates are on the Demcratic Change Commission.]

With 37 members, there are going to be a fair number of opinions on what to do about any or all of the three issues above. The process starts Saturday and this will continue to be something to track as we move into a midterm election year next year.

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