In what is continuing to be an absurd leapfrogging process, Iowa’s Governor Chet Culver has ruled out moving Iowa’s caucus to December of this year. According to the Washington Post, some of Iowa’s politicians had proposed that in response to the actions reported yesterday of South Carolina Republicans moving their primary to January 19, 2008.
For the record no moves at this time are being considered in Washington state to compete with the Holiday shopping season or Christmas on Tuesday December 25th, 2007, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or New Year’s Day on Tuesday January 1, 2008.
Meanwhile Iowa’s Governor Culver is quoted as saying that, “The bottom line is Iowa will have the first caucus and we’re going in January.” As the Washington Post reports:
“Culver said Iowa would work with New Hampshire officials to find mutually agreeable dates for their contests and acknowledged that both states might need to be flexible in terms of the spacing between the caucuses and the primary — by Iowa law eight days — and the days of the week when the events are held. He also said Iowa officials will take into account holiday travel and disruptions and seek to avoid scheduling the caucuses on New Year’s day.
Asked if he expects the Nevada caucuses to be held between events in Iowa and New Hampshire, he said, “They are now.” Asked if he cared whether that remains the case, he said, “I do care”.”
Current Iowa law requires that Iowa hold its caucus 8 days before any other state. The Politico reports that Governor Culver would change the state law if necessary to keep its caucus in 2008. The issue is further complicated because New Hampshire also has a law requiring that it hold its primary 7 days before any other primary.
“The dominoes were set tumbling this week when South Carolina Republicans announced they were moving up their primary to Jan. 19, a Saturday.
According to New Hampshire law, the Granite State would then have to hold its primary at least seven days before, which would mean Jan. 12 or before. But Jan. 12 is a Saturday and New Hampshire has always held its primaries on Tuesday, meaning New Hampshire would probably move to Jan. 8, forcing Iowa into 2007. Politico learned, however, that New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner would, for the first time, consider a date other than a Tuesday. With Culver’s pledge to change state law if he has to, all three states might be able to wedge into January. “
Washington State is scheduled to hold a Presidential Primary on Feb 19, 2007. Republicans will allocate 51% of their delegates according to the vote. Washington State Democrats will allocate none from this vote. Instead they will allocate delegates based on a rather complicated caucus process that starts on Feb 9, 2007 and culminates in the bulk of the delegates being selected at Congressional District caucuses on Saturday May 17, 2008. The remainder are decided by an “Election Committee” based on credentials on Sunday June 17, 2007.
Washington State Republicans are also slated to hold their preliminary caucus on Feb. 9, 2008
We have previously written about our concerns with the caucus selection process by the Democrats to select delegates to The Democratic National Convention and their ignoring the results of the Washington State Presidential Primary that was set up by an initiative to the Legislature, Initiative 99. Initiative 99 was enacted into law by the Washington State Legislature in 1989.
The stumbling block for the Washington State Democrats participating in the Presidential Primary has to do with the fact that Washington State does not require voters to declare a Party affiliation when they register to vote. Until recently in regular elections Washington State had a blanket primary where you could vote for any candidate for office, whether a Republican or Democrat. That has changed in that you can only vote for a specific party in the primary now but there is still no official party registration.
Many grassroots Democrats like the caucus process but the vote by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee on April 29, 2007 was not unanimous . The Seattle Times reported the vote as being 119 to 42 to support the caucus over the primary to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
If the Washington State Democrats want to be more sincere about involving the public in the process of picking the Democratic nominee for President they need to include a plank in their state platform supporting voter registration by party.
Otherwise it is just a little too convenient to use the existing non-party voter registration process in Washington State as an excuse to hold a caucus which severely limits voters being able to participate in what one might characterize as the ultimate American voting experience – electing a President of the United States.
See “Presidential Primary Makes Sense” for more discussion on this issue.
Other questions about the Presidential Primary process in Washington State are answered at “Presidential Primary FAQ” and “Presidential Primary Background Paper” which are posted on the Washington Secretary of State’s website.
One of the more updated sites keeping track of the changing dates of the 2008 Presidential Primaries and Caucuses is at Stateline.org