The most important battles for the survival of The Caucuses As We Know Them have already been won, with Obama's nomination and election. But part of the peace deal between then-rivals Obama and Hillary Clinton was a "calendar reform commission," which has now been named. The designated defender of the caucuses is to be... Attorney General Tom Miller, one of Iowa's earliest Obama backers.
"President Obama has repeatedly shown his commitment to Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation status, and his commitment was demonstrated once again with his appointment of Miller,” says the blurb from the IDP.
Miller's not a bad choice for Iowa. My list would have started and ended with Dave Nagle, but then I'm not Tim Kaine or the president.
The commission is headed by Rep. Jim Clyburn of 2008 early state South Carolina, and early and enthusiatic Obama backer Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Conspicuous by their absence are Iowa haters the Dingells of Michigan, though both Michigan and fellow 2008 calendar cheater Florida are represented. "Doesn't sound like there's much interest in letting Florida or Michigan bump ahead of the likes of New Hampshire," writes tampabay.com.
The Democratic Change Commission will address three issues: 1) changing the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held 2) reducing the number of superdelegates and 3) improving the caucus system. The Commission must issue its report and recommendations to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee no later than January 1, 2010.
New York Times: "Next time, party leaders say, the primaries and caucuses will start no sooner than Feb. 1, which is a month later than the 2008 race. The Democratic rules, of course, are subject to change, which is how the extraordinarily front-loaded system came about last year." That's a lot saner start date than January freakin' third.
Ben Smith at Politico: "The dominant figure will likely be Obama's delegate guru, Jeff Berman, a largely unsung, key player of the primary season who is close to David Plouffe, also on the commission, and to Bill Carrick, another commissioner."
And at least one PUMA is unhappy.
Updated with further reflections:
Some of our problems were unique to 2008. We won't see two candidates so strong and so evenly matched, and such an intense level of interest, for a very long time.
We Dems are process obsessed. Republicans just do what they'll do. Michigan and Florida Republicans lost half their delegates, said OK, and no one mentioned it again.
Michigan and Florida really should have been punished somehow. The politics of the Hillary-Obama truce and the general election demanded that they weren't, but it'll make it that much harder to enforce whatever rules we make now.
We Iowans are gonna have to give in and set up an absentee process. Problem is, unrestricted absentee will turn the heavily staffed caucuses into a de facto absentee ballot drive and kill the town meeting tradition. Personally I'd like some reasonably broad but somewhat restricted list of reasons: "I'm on duty in Afghanistan" OK, "the game's on TV that night" no. I don't know where to draw the line between those two extremes.
Superdelegates are problematic and I don't have a good answer. I think every delegate should be elected, and elected with a preference (or as a formal Uncommitted). But if you make the congressman run against everyone else, the congressman will win, and the congressman doesn't want to win by beating the 19 year old volunteer.
There should be some kind of two-track system where the congressman runs in a pool with the majority leader and Secretary of State and governor and so on, and the volunteers run against other mortals. The question there is a) how many delegates come out of each pool and 2) which pool does the union president or county chair swim in, because they'll usually (but not always!) beat the 19 year old doorknocker too.
Here's the list, which has a cute habit of describing high-end lawyer/fundraisers as "grassroots activists." Deeth's annotated version:
Jeremy Alters, Miami, Florida: trial lawyer and fundraiser
Jeff Berman, Washington, DC: Obama political consultant who helped engineer the successful focus on delegate counts and caucus states
Ashley Bliss, Atlanta, Georgia: Obama field organizer in Ohio
State Representative Dan Blue, Raleigh, North Carolina: former Speaker, endorsed Obama
Bill Carrick, Los Angeles, California: Consultant for Ted Kennedy, Dick Gephardt and Bill Clinton presidential campaigns.
Mayor Michael Coleman, Columbus, Ohio: Endorsed Obama in October 2007, re-elected a month later.
Jeff Forbes, Washington, DC: political consultant, Hillary supporter in `08.
Joan Garry, Montclair, New Jersey: Former Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation head; co-chaired National LGBT Finance Committee for Obama. Also donated to Edwards early in `08 cycle.
State Chair Larry Gates, Overland Park, Kansas: Endorsed Obama late in 2008 cycle, long after Kansas voted.
School Board Member Adelita Grijalva, Tucson, Arizona: Daughter of Congressman Raul Grijalva, served on DNC credentials in 2008.
Professor Rob Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Early Obama supporter.
Former State Chair Ned Helms, Concord, New Hampshire: Endorsed Obama March 2007. (Not present: Secretary of State Bill Gardner.)
Former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, McLean, Virginia: Long Clinton history but was ostensibly neutral; major role in 2008 credentials committee.
Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, North/South Dakota: Joined a rollout of 100 tribal leaders for Obama.
James Hoffa, Detroit: Teamsters endorsed Obama post-Michigan but early enough to matter.
Roseanne Hope, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Commercial real estate attorney; endorsed Obama January 4, 2008.
State Senator Steven Horsford, Las Vegas, Nevada: Another early-state early Obama endorser.
"Grassroots Activist" (sic) Suzie LeVine, Seattle, Washington: Microsoft connection.
UAW CAP Director Dick Long, Detroit: UAW did a no-endorsement in the `08 primary. My guess is this is the Dingell's proxy.
Andres Lopez, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Obama supporter before that late-late Puerto Rico primary; statehood advocate.
Former Attorney General Patricia Madrid, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Lost a close congressional race in 2006. Backed Obama after Richardson got out but before Richardson did.
DNC Member Debbie Marquez, Edwards, Colorado: Backed Obama before Colorado's Super Tuesday caucus.
State Senator Iris Martinez, Chicago, Illinois: Hometown Obama backer, no friend of the Blagojevich/Mell family.
Delegate Jennifer McClellan, Richmond, Virginia: Superdelegate who flipped from Clinton to Obama May 7.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, Helena, Montana: Newly elected, knocked off GOP incumbent.
Attorney General Tom Miller, Des Moines, Iowa
DNC Member Minyon Moore, Washington, DC: Hillary's national black outreach director.
Sunah Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: politically active attorney.
Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, Washington, DC: The guy running the show.
Rebecca Prozan, San Francisco, California: Past head of Alice B. Toklas Democratic organization, went with Obama.
DNC Member James Roosevelt, Jr., Cambridge, Massachusetts: Big role in 2008 credentials, stayed neutral to the end.
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, Lakewood, California: She backed Obama, sister Loretta was with Hillary. They debated each other a lot on talk shows during The Long March To The Nomination.
AFT President Randi Weingarten, New York City: AFT endorsed Clinton in October 2007.
State Chair Meredith Wood Smith, Portland, Oregon: Endorsed Obama the day after he won the state's late May primary.
Martin Yeung, Rapid City, South Dakota: LGBT activist and Obama delegate.