The DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee is off to an excellent start on the path to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The next steps will be an RBC meeting in DC on July 8-9 to finalize the Delegate Selection Rules and the August 21 DNC meeting which will adopt the Convention Call. Thoughts on the May 20-21 RBC meeting:
Fixing the Calendar – The RBC did not set specific dates, but adopted the Change Commission proposal for a 2nd Tuesday in March window and a February pre-window. The RNC delegate selection committee is recommending the same calendar which offers the party a unique opportunity to work together to reduce frontloading. In Virginia, for example, we will need to move our primary date to March and we will need GOP cooperation to do so.
The GOP also followed the RBC in placing IA, NH, SC and NV in the pre-window period. The RBC beat back an effort to reexamine this issue – they will do so in advance of the 2016 process, but for this year moving the calendar back will be reform enough. The RBC still needs to address the details of encouraging states to form regional clusters (like the 2008 Potomac Primary) and the enforcement process for states that refuse to comply with the new schedule.
Superdelegates – the RBC welcomed the Change Commission proposal to eliminate the 86 uncommitted Add-On delegates, but was not supportive of the proposal to convert the other 700 automatic unpledged delegates to pledged delegates. Is this proposal is going to go forward, its proponents will need to provide the specific detailed language as to the procedures for having elected officials and DNC members commit to presidential candidates to reflect the state’s voter preferences, and how to maintain those preferences if the automatic delegates decline to commit and become non-voting delegates.
One member suggested eliminating the alternate category so as to increase the total number of pledged delegates and reduce the impact of the automatic delegates. We have alternates for a reason however and eliminating them will cause additional problems in filing vacancies. Other proposals that have been raised in the past (but not at the meeting) include making some or all DNC members non-voting or giving them ½ votes. The Change Commission was co-chaired by two members of congress, but it is not clear how members of Congress view the potential loss of their automatic, uncommitted status.
Caucuses – There was continued concern about participation issues – the DNC staff will evaluate absentee, internet, and other approaches, and I think the Texas two step (delegates chosen by both primary and caucus) is on the way out.
Outreach – In 2008, the Party added an inclusion rule providing for outreach to people with disabilities, the LGBT community, and other groups (some states included young people) who were not subject to the Plan’s affirmative action goals. Some RBC members would like to strengthen this provision. There were concerns raised about state implementation of outreach programs and the Ass’n of State Democratic Chairs will provide outreach training – an important party activity that goes beyond the presidential election year.
Other changes – Most other rules had few or no changes. See May 20 and 21 posts for more details and prior posts on the Change Commission for details of its recommendations.