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DNC, State Leaders Weigh in
On Primary Schedule Scramble

South Carolina--where this man is shown making his selections in the Feb. 2004 Democratic primary--joins three other early primary states to encourage candidates to ignore the calendar shuffle (AP)

It's getting ugly in the "who gets to vote first" battle. Last night, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who wants to move up the date of her state's primary to Jan. 15, sent a letter to Democratic and Republican candidates asking them to pledge to campaign in Michigan, which traditionally doesn't have an early primary. In response, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sent a letter this morning demanding that candidates "do your part and support the actions of the Rules and Bylaws Committee," of the DNC, which stipulates only New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina can hold primaries before Feb. 5, 2008.

And now those states are getting involved. A letter released today (see the text here) and signed by the Democratic leaders in those four states, along with Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina--all powerful state figures whose endorsements the candidates are seeking-- calls on the candidates to pledge not to campaign in any state that schedules its primary before Feb 5. They want each 2008 Democratic hopeful to sign an agrement that states "I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as 'campaigning' is defined by the rules and regulations of the DNC."

The various letters already have the campaigns scrambling. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has already signed it, saying in a statement "this process is completely out of control and only an agreement by the candidates can restore sanity." Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Joe Biden (Del.) have also signed the pledge. Mo Elleithee, a spokesman from Sen. Hillary's Clinton's campaign did not rule out participating in primaries apart from those four states, saying "we've received the letter and we are certainly reviewing it." Clinton remains committed to competing in the first four early states, but "other states are going through a process and as we've said, our position is we are going to allow that process to play out."

--Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  August 31, 2007; 5:10 PM ET
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