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DNC Change Commission Adopts Report

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The DNC Change Commission held its final (hour-long) meeting this afternoon (by conference call).  The Commission approved a draft report that recommends converting most automatic unpledged “superdelegates” to pledged delegates who will fill slots reflecting the voter preferences in their state’s primary or caucuses – thus becoming automatic, pledged, voting convention delegates.  The DNC Rules and Bylaws Commission (RBC) will consider the Commission’s report and then forward proposed delegate selection rules to the DNC for action later in 2010.

Superdelegates:  The draft report proposes a new category of National Party Leader and Elected Officials (NPLEO) delegates who will serve as full voting delegates to the national convention.  The current proposal thus backs off from the prior proposal which would have made superdelegates non-voting delegates.  The current add-on unpledged delegate positions that were filled at state conventions would be eliminated.  Each state would receive a number of additional delegates (NPLEOs) that is equal to the number of its current automatic delegates – including all DNC members (elected, at large, state party chairs and vice chairs, and DNC officers), members of Congress, Governors, and Distinguished Former Party Leaders.  After the state has held its primary or caucus process and determined the percentage of delegates to be allocated to each presidential candidate, the NPLEOs, like the current At Large and PLEO delegates, would be allocated to those candidates.  Each NPLEO then woukld have the choice of pledging to a candidate or not pledging to any candidate and participating in the convention as a nonvoting delegate.

This proposal raises a few issues, which will likely be addressed by the RBC.

First, because the NPLEOs are counted in the complete state allocation, if the NPLEO opts out and goes to the convention as an unpledged non-voting delegate, an alternate must be selected to fill that seat.  Thus the position is more like the current elected pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) position, than a superdelegate position (for which there were no alternates).  Currently there are elected alternates to the At Large and PLEO positions; the RBC will need to determine how alternates are to be chosen for the NPLEO positions.

Second, if more NPLEOs want to pledge to a candidate than there are pledged NPLEO candidate positions, how is that resolved?  E.g., a state has 10 NPLEO positions; presidential candidate A gets five NPLEO positions, but eight of the NPLEOs really favor candidate A. O nly five can go as candidate A delegates; the remaining three would either go as non-voting or pledge to a candidate who they do not actually support.  And how will the five who get to go as candidate A delegates be selected?

Third, currently presidential candidates have a right of approval for national convention delegates pledged to them.  This process will have to be applied in some way to the NPLEOs.

Fourth, what affect will the NPLEO change have on DNC diversity and equal division (gender) requirements?  Currently superdelegates are counted in these allocations, but if an NPLEO opts out, does his or her replacement have to share the same characteristics?  The unpledged add on positions had been used in the past to address diversity issues, but that is no longer an option – and should not be necessary. 

Calendar:  Under the Commission’s proposal numerous states (including Virginia) will have to move their primaries back to after March 1.   It will be easier to achieve date changes in 2012 if the RNC agrees to have a similar starting date.  Nevertheless, some states will be in a situation where there is a state mandated primary date which does not comply with the DNC’s schedule.  The RBC will reexamine the delegate selection rules which provide for sanctions and exceptions.

I will post a copy of the final Commission Report when it becomes available.

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  1. Here is today’s DNC Press Release, from Chairman Kaine:

    ** High Priority **
    Dear DNC Members:

    I wanted to make sure you see the Press Release I sent out this afternoon on the work of the Change Commission. The next steps are the work of the RBC in reviewing the recommendations and then your vote on the presentation of our delegate selection rules.

    Let me take a moment to wish you a very happy new year, to thank you for all your hard work, and to share my hope for a wonderful — and democratic — 2010.


    For Immediate Release
    December 30, 2009

    DNC Chairman Tim Kaine Issued the Following Statement on the Democratic Change Commission’s Recommendations to Improve the Presidential Nominating Process

    Washington – DNC Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement after the Democratic Change Commission this afternoon voted to approve its recommendations to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee designed to improve the Presidential nominating process. The Commission was created as a result of a resolution passed unanimously by the delegates in attendance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The Commission made its recommendations to the Rules and Bylaws Committee by unanimous agreement.

    The recommendations include pushing back the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held; converting unpledged delegates (DNC members, Democratic Members of the House and Senate, Democratic Governors and Distinguished Former Party Leaders) to a new category of pledged delegate called the National Pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (NPLEO) delegates, which will be allocated to Presidential candidates based on the state wide primary or caucus results; and establishing a ?best practices? program for caucus states to improve and strengthen their caucuses. Under the Commission’s recommendations – the pre-primary window could not begin until February 1st or thereafter, and the primary window could not begin until the second Tuesday in March or thereafter.

    The recommendations come after nearly a year of discussion about how best to improve the system to make it as accessible and open as possible.

    I want to congratulate Congressman Clyburn and Senator McCaskill and entire the Democratic Change Commission for issuing their recommendations today and for taking up this important work,? said Kaine.

    Openness, fairness, and accessibility are central to our ideals as Democrats, and the Commission?s recommendations to reform the delegate selection process will ensure that voters? voices and preferences are paramount to our process of nominating a Presidential candidate.

    The Commission?s recommendations are consistent with the goals of the Democratic Party and President Obama and with the Commission’s mandate. And though this is the first step in a process that will later include a full examination by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and the full membership of the DNC, it is an important statement about the direction our Party is going and our priorities as we look to 2012 and beyond.

    As we work towards improving our Presidential nominating process and making it accessible to as many voters as possible, I am grateful to the Commission for its hard work in moving this process forward.?

    The Democratic Change Commission was tasked by a resolution passed during the 2008 Democratic Convention with recommending changes to the Democratic Party?s rules for the 2012 Presidential nominating and delegate selection process.

    By appointing the Change Commission this spring, Gov. Kaine has followed through on President Obama?s promise made during the election to reexamine and improve the Democratic primary process.

    Gov. Kaine, President Obama, and the Democratic Party believe that improving the primary system is an important priority, and that the process should be as inclusive and accessible as possible.

    The Democratic Change Commission was tasked by the delegates to the 2008 Democratic Convention with doing three things:

    1. Changing the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held
    2. Reducing the number of super delegates
    3. Improving the caucus system.

    The Commission is made up of 34 members and two co-chairs (for 36 members total) and represents a diverse mix of DNC members, elected officials, representatives of State Parties, academics, organized labor officials, grassroots activists, and other Party leaders.

    House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senator Claire McCaskill have served as the co-chairs.

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