Sunday, June 28, 2009

Calendar Commission Off To Low-Key Start

Calendar Commission Off To Low-Key Start

It flew mostly below the national radar this weekend, but the first meeting of the Democratic Party's "Change Commission" got started on its review of the nomination process and calendar yesterday.

The commission was part of the peace deal between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at last year's convention. Iowa is represented by Attorney General Tom Miller, an early Obama backer.

Iowa's first place, and use of a caucus instead of a primary (a key criticism from Clinton forces), don't seem to be in immediate danger yet. "Considering President Barack Obama’s victory in the leadoff caucuses last year, it is unlikely Iowa will face the aggressive challenge to its position it normally does," writes Tom Beaumont on a brief blog note.

The biggest change may be the demise of the superdelegates, elected officials and party leaders who have gotten automatic delegate seats since the mid-80s.

"We can probably let go of the superdelegates," former superdelegate Elaine Kamarck told ABC (one of the few outlets to mention the meeting). "Their deliberative role has in fact been supplanted by a very, very public process."

As I've noted before, dumping the superdelegates puts top officials in an awkward spot. I'm thinking of my own district convention, where four Obama national delegate seats were available, and 84 people ran for those spots. And that was with the party's top officials out of the mix. Get rid of the superdelegates, and those congressmen have to run against the apple-cheeked newcomers. I don't have a good answer here.

The commission is supposed to push the calendar back a month, writes The Hill, with most states allowed to start in March and the "pre-window" states (which were us, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina last time) going in February.

"Already, key RNC members David Norcross and Bob Bennett have spoken with the DNC's (James) Roosevelt as the two sides seek to work together" on the calendar, writes The Hill.

Perhaps anticipating a later calendar, Iowa Democrats have moved their gubernatorial cycle caucuses later, to a currently scheduled Monday, Jan. 25, 2010. That's nine days later than in 2006 and also avoids, by one week, the conflict with the Martin Luther King holiday that we had in 2004 and 2006. Some activists were unhappy that they had to choose between MLK commemoration events and the caucuses, and here in Johnson County we passed resolutions opposing the schedule conflict.

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