In an pure politics news story, the DNC (led by Dean) has changed its 2008 voting calendar to somewhat usurp the importance of the New Hampshire primary. They've also set penalties for candidates who would presume to buck the trend:
The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to penalize 2008 presidential candidates who defied a new nominating calendar devised to lessen the longtime influence of New Hampshire and Iowa, the two states that have traditionally kicked off the nominating process.This stance has really irked New Hampshire officials, who may schedule their primary as early as 2007 in order to comply with state law:
The sanctions will be directed at candidates who campaign in any state that refuses to follow a 2008 calendar of primaries and caucuses that was also approved Saturday. Any candidate who campaigns in a state that does not abide by the new calendar will be stripped at the party convention of delegates won in that state.
Iowa will continue to start the voting process, with a caucus on Jan. 14. But under the new calendar, there will be a caucus in Nevada on the Saturday between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 22. South Carolina will hold a primary at least one week after New Hampshire.
While the DNC vote could weaken New Hampshire's powerful influence in the presidential race, state officials say a 1913 state law protects its historic clout, requiring the primary to be held at least one week before any "similar contest."
Chairman Howard Dean's not going to pick the date of the New Hampshire primary," said William M. Gardner, New Hampshire's secretary of state. "I'm going to follow state law. . . . That's what I've done since 1976, and I expect to do it the same way this time."The really ironic thing about all of this is Howard Deans involvement. He was quoted in 2004 saying:
Apparently new candidates who threaten to put backbone and spine back into the Democratic Party are no longer a concern.
"I am absolutely committed to New Hampshire having the first primary and Iowa having the first caucus,'' he said. "The reason I'm committed is that candidates like me would never have a chance without being able to look people in the eye and shake their hands and let them say what they think.
"I'm very pleased that South Carolina has an early primary. It's more a diverse state and that's important. And I urge other states to have early primaries. But I think we've got to continue the tradition of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary because it's the only way candidates with no money -- but with strong backing and who are willing to put backbone and spine back into the Democratic Party -- have any chance at all."
Yeah! Republicans for a Red New Hampshire -- sounds catchy.
It is also typical of the Number One Liar in the Democratic Party. For it was Howard Dean who claimed to want to protect our primary when he was campaigning here for his party's nomination in 2004.Last time around, voters here were warned that they had better make sure that New Hampshire became a Democrat "blue'' state in 2004 if they wanted to keep our primary. That sure worked out well.
In the next Presidential race, given how tight national elections have become, we expect New Hampshire's four electoral votes will be quite the prize. And we imagine the Republicans will be reminding voters here just what the Democratic Party thinks of our little state and our primary.