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New Hampshire vs. The Party?

Update: John DiStaso reports in the New Hampshire Union Leader today that the top election official in the state is prepared to move the 2008 presidential primary date to ensure the Granite State's first-in-the-nation status.

Secretary of State William Gardner cites the New Hampshire law that empowers him to schedule the primary a week before any "similar election," adding: "The law doesn't define 'similar election' and gives us total freedom. And I'm going to interpret that as meaning it is our responsibility to maintain the tradition that we've had all these years."

Gardner's verbal threat comes less than two weeks before the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling will meet for the final time in Washington, D.C.  Members of the commission seem to be in favor of adding two or three caucuses between Iowa and New Hampshire, which, they argue, would technically preserve New Hampshire's status as the first in the nation primary.  Gardner doesn't appear willing to play ball, however.

The Fix's Chris Cillizza teamed up with The Post's Dan Balz to write a longer piece on New Hampshire Democrats' efforts to maintain their first-in-the-nation presidential primary status.

Read the story here: "For N.H. Democrats, Timing Is Everything."

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 30, 2005; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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My apologies - the Chris Bowers article I was referring to can be found ad if you're interested in reading it.

Posted by: Tom Tom | December 1, 2005 1:48 AM | Report abuse

New Hampshire and Iowa do a very good job of representing the demographics and geographical population density of 19th century America. But if our party wants to have a nominee who is competetive in all regions of our 21st century America, our vetting process must reflect that diversity of people, places and issues - all of which are intertwined - not as an after-thought, but as the core of the process.
We won't be able to rectify the greater problem of front-loading in time for the 2008 contest(though I hope the DNC and RNC will begin to work together towards addressing that as soon as practicable). But in the meantime, we can at least insure that the geographic and racial diversity of our 21st century America is an integral part of the vetting process - not as a token gesture after the contest is decided. And we do have several great states in the West and South which would meet this goal and which are both smaller than Iowa - for retail politics - and have relatively cheap media markets.
Now, it seems to me that New Hampshire's primary will in large measure end the 2008 contest for Democrats because it has the gravitas of an open primary in a small swing state. The question is, who will have had a say in the process leading up to it? Will this process reflect our party's diversity? Or are we sending someone to the back of the bus again, so to speak?
New Hampshire state Democratic Party officials' "plan" maintains the status quo by keeping the selection process in effect, an exclusive club open only to whites in two - and more so in the case of the Northeast - already heavily Democratic regions which are shrinking in electoral votes. What's more, would it not improve the selection process to require our party's candidates to pass through a vetting process that measures appeal in regions that are difficult to win so that we can learn which candidates think they can win the general election as opposed to those candidates who in fact can win the general election? Would it not make sense to place contests during the critical phase of the competition which reflect general election viability in regions that are growing rapidly in electoral votes?
Further, New Hampshire, while a great retail politics state, is problematic as a momentum bestower and 'denier'(if there is such a word =-) because it has a demonstrated history of preferring candidates from the Northeast. And to be fair, regional preference in voting behavior is to be expected most anywhere. The problem is that every Democratic nominee who has come from the Northeast over the last 40 years has failed to win the general election - while, incidentally, every Democratic nominee who has hailed from the South won at least the popular vote when running for the first time - and 2008 is a non-incumbent contest. So, historically, Democrats should be wary of letting New Hampshire choose which candidates will recieve momentum before Democrats from other regions have had a chance to chime in.
So I concur with Chris Bowers that we could very likely lose New Hampshire's four whopping electoral votes in 2008 if we stand up for diversity in the critical phase of the contest between Iowa and New Hampshire. But in doing so, we would historically have a better chance of selecting a stronger general election candidate while at the same time re-affirming the diversity that we value and that makes us Democrats. I take no pleasure in this confrontation with the New Hampshire state Democratic Party - but it seems to me that it's long since overdue that we did.

Posted by: Tom Tom | December 1, 2005 1:40 AM | Report abuse

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