Let's Put Oregon in the Presidential Primaries

Jesse Cornett

The 2008 Presidential election will be the most wide-open in 80 years, marking the first campaign without a sitting President or Vice-President since 1928.

This month, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner said that the 2008 U.S. presidential race will be "the most expensive election in American history." He went on to estimate that the 2008 race will be a "$1 billion election," that to be "taken seriously," a candidate will need to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007. "Call it a $100 million entry fee," Toner said.

Depending on how you count, there will be at least a dozen (if not two dozen) candidates. On the Democratic side, the likely and announced candidates include Joe Biden, Wes Clark, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Al Sharpton, and Tom Vilsack. Over on the Republican side, the current list includes Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, George Pataki, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Tommy Thompson.

But Oregon will sit it out until the last two minutes of this game – when the winners have already been determined.

Here's how the early primary and caucus schedule looks so far:

14: Iowa Democratic Caucus
19: Nevada Democratic Caucus
21: Iowa Republican Caucus
22: New Hampshire Primary
29: South Carolina Democratic Primary

2: South Carolina Republican Primary
5: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah have primaries scheduled for both parties. North Dakota, and West Virginia Republicans will also vote for their nominee and Michigan and Florida Republicans are expected to move theirs soon.
12: Washington DC & Virginia Democrats and both parties in Tennessee.
19: Minnesota Republicans and Wisconsin
26: Hawaii, Idaho

Many, many other states are up in March and April.

Where does that leave Oregon? We are currently scheduled for May 20th, 2008, one of the last few states to vote, months after we know who the nominees will be and long after the race for November has begun.

We've got a better idea. Move Oregon's presidential primary up to February 5th.

A Better Idea for Oregon

Imagine living in a state where presidential primaries matter. It hasn't happened in Oregon since 1968 - but it can in 2008.

If we go with business as usual, we'll take a pass on getting any of the campaigns, their business, and ability to engage our electorate until Labor Day just like every other year. Oregonians will take a pass on helping to choose who our nation's presidential nominees will be… yet again.

Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have primaries scheduled for February 5th. That's a lot of western states. Montana is looking at it too. Heck, even Washington has had early caucuses. Maybe they'll look at revisiting the notion this year. Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R) and Mew Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) are leading the charge on a “Western Super Tuesday.” We shouldn't just hop on the bandwagon, but with vote by mail, Oregon can, and should, lead the charge.

If we designate February 5th as the Presidential Selection Primary in Oregon, our ballots will go out approximately 20 days earlier. By the time Oregonians get their ballots, Iowa's Democratic Caucus will be barely in the rearview mirror. No other state and not even the Republicans in Iowa will have had their primary or caucus by then. And no other state can.

In fact, here's how that January schedule would look:

14: Iowa Democratic Caucus
16: Oregon ballots mailed
19: Nevada Democratic Caucus
21: Iowa Republican Caucus
22: New Hampshire Primary
29: South Carolina Democratic Primary

Who won't like this plan? New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, academics who fear the effects of front-loading, and the national parties may not like this plan very much. In fact, New Hampshire claims that by their state law, they must hold the first primary and may be tempted to move their primary even early. The DNC has threatened to withhold delegates if they do so. But, the federal courts have ruled that Election Day is Election Day. Oregon's date would be February 5th, not when we mail our ballots.

It's Good for Oregon

When campaigns come to town, they bring a lot of money with them. Staff live and work in Oregon. Ads are purchased, locals employed, and much more. Most of these candidates can qualify for public funding in the Primary if they choose, meaning they can each spend nearly a half a million dollars in Oregon. Those who choose to opt out, which will likely include most of the frontrunners, can spend an unlimited amount.

Sure, a statewide election would cost taxpayer money, but an early presidential primary would mean that candidates would campaign in Oregon. They would spend their money here. Lots of it if ballots were due February 5th.

Over $733 million was raised and spent by major party candidates during the 2004 primary season. Excluding John Kerry and George W. Bush, the rest of the primary field spent over $180 million prior to March 2004.

We spend money to bring business to Oregon all the time – and that's good. These campaigns would stay longer and spend more than the movie crews we've invested in bringing to Oregon.

And most importantly, Oregonians will have a voice in who our presidential candidates will be for the first time in decades. This will engage the electorate in a way not seen in our lifetime and is the right thing to do for Oregon.

Let's make Oregon matter in the 2008 Presidential Primary.

  • The Spiro (unverified)

    I'm with Jesse and Kari on this one. Having worked in the Iowa Caucus in 2004 for John Kerry, I understand the benefits to voters and the community. I'm enthralled by stories of campaigns gone by, like '68, when my older friends talk about how Bobby Kennedy visited Canby High School or getting a chance to see him at Mo's in Newport. Now that's campaigning, having to go out and talk to people, shake their hands, take the time to talk to voters, not simply come to town and hold a huge rally and a fundraiser and head on to the next state.

    We could actually have a debate if we got really into it. Imagine people all over the country watching a debate happening in Oregon. The town that I was stationed in Iowa was probably around 30,000 in population. In one week, this town saw every single candidate or a surrogate for a candidate come in. If they can do it, so can we. It's not like we'd have to wait in lines at the polls.

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    It would be nice to actually have a say in who our nominee will be. 2004 was a joke. We already knew who the nominee was going to be.

    That was my first presidential primary in Oregon, and I was extremely disappointed to find out we had no say in who the nominee was going to be. I think the voters in every state deserve a say in who the nominee will be.

    That's why I worked a caucus in Washington-- so I could actually participate in the process.

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    the 2008 race will be a "$1 billion election," that to be "taken seriously," a candidate will need to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007.

    Sure, let's have Oregon get its cut of the action...but, I'm sorry, there's something really sick about a "$1 billion election."

    And so much for the "reform" of public financing, as we lick our lips ove the notion that "Those who choose to opt out, which will likely include most of the frontrunners, can spend an unlimited amount." Whoo hoo! Let the good times roll!

  • annoymous (unverified)

    What troubles me about this list is: NO WESTERN STATES. The West has been hearalded as a bastion of conservativism by the Right, but in reality it is more left and independant (as seen in the last election results). I used the small "l" purposely here, but nevertheless, this should be primary hunting ground, not states such as Iowa. And California? Well... they could be a "national" election primary all to themselves.

    Oregon is a great choice, but I also would be happy with Washington being up there too. What about Colorado?

    It is amazing that the first of these primaries is less than a year away.

  • Dave (unverified)

    "The 2008 Presidential election will be the most wide-open in 80 years, marking the first campaign without a sitting President or Vice-President since 1928."

    I have heard this often said in the news, but it is incorrect. In the 1952 presidential election neither Dwight Eisenhower nor Adlai Stevenson were a siting president or vice president.

  • Justin M (unverified)

    Of course, if the primaries are close, it will put Oregon in the position of deciding a primary and thus increase the attention placed on Oregon.

  • Phen (unverified)

    Like the idea; let's do it!

    Correction to Dave: in 1952 the "sitting VP," Alben Barclay, was a candidate for the D nomination. Another example of excellent research by Kari and Jesse.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Is it really necessary to point out the obvious? Every state wants to be the earliest to increase its clout. The "logic" of this dynamic means primary dates get moved up and up and up....Gee, why don't we have the 2008 primary in 2007 and really get a head start?

  • TomCat (unverified)

    I'm all for it. What do we need to do to make this happen?

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    True about Eisenhower and Stevenson but Democrat Alben Barkley was the sitting vice-president when he unsuccessfully competed in the primary for president in 1952, making 1928 the last time no president or vice-president competed.

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    And what is the impact on all of the other elections in Oregon? Do we move them up too or just have a single presidential vote in February and everything else in May? Before we jump on the early primary bandwagon, let's think through the possible ramifications of potentially lower turnout on all the other races and ballot measures in May.

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    Thanks, Phen. It's not Dave's fault. Lots and lots and lots of national media get this wrong over and over and over. 1952 is the correct date if you're talking general election, but 1928 if you include the primaries. Barclay was the last sitting VP to lose his party's nomination.

    Frank is right. The presidential money system is broken. That's neither here nor there, though.

    Anon 7:07 - The lack of a Western state has been troublesome for years. You do seem to have overlooked Nevada which will host a Democratic caucus after Iowa, but before New Hampshire. Kudos to Howard Dean and Harry Reid for making that happen.

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    Thanks Phen. I didn't see your comment before I posted mine.

    Anonymous: we posted several Western states: New Mexico, Utah and Arizona are all going early.

    Lin: we cannot have an election prior to 5 February or we will lose delegates to the national conventions and the primary would mean nothing anyway.

    What do we do to make it happen: it's called changing the law. The legislature is currently in session. Only they can do it. Call your legislator, direct them to this post or take talking points from it when you call.

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    Let's make Oregon matter in the 2008 Presidential Primary.

    What's the mechanism to do this? Is it the Secretary of State's call?

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    Good insight. Oregon gets tremendous turnout in most primaries. We could still have a hot US Senate race, and will have three statewide offices on the regular ballot in May.

    Do you think that knowing they could choose between Larouche, Kucinich and Kerry on our side or between Bush and Bush on the R in May 2004 really inspired the masses to vote? It would be a similar situation in 2008. Our ballots are printed late enough and the manner in which presidential candidates are placed on the ballot, there would be one maybe two names on either side in 2008, and it would be a very similar setup: the person who has already received enough delegates to win versus one or two who keep running even though they can't win (which is exactly how the media treats them and therefore how the public views them).

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    Not the SoS's call, though there is a bill introduced that would make it his call. I tend to think we need legislation to specify a date (5 Feb), so that the SoS is sheltered from the national pressure that would be applied to make it later. Have do doubt, this will piss off the National Parties, and the Secretaries of State as a whole. But what matters here is what's best for Oregonians.

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    Is John Kerry a lunatic? After winning 2004 and capitulating, he thinks more than maybe 1 or 2 people in his immediate family are going to actually vote for him again? I am dumbfounded. The propaganda party has won if anyone believes that Bush won a majority of votes....ever. We won't win until people figure this out. We have the majority. We need to count the votes.

  • Phen (unverified)

    Okay, here are a couple problems with the idea. Perhaps we could get some comments:

    1. The counties are facing big (even devastating for some) hits in federal revenues this year. How would they find the extra money to put on an additional election?

    2. Some people are attracted to the primary by the presence of presidential candidates. Would participation in the May primary suffer, thereby sapping local democracy's strength?

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    The Wikipedia article about the '08 Dem primary calendar shows Oregon's on March 18. Is Wikipedia wrong again?

  • LT (unverified)

    At least as important as when our primary is: understanding the whole delegate selection process.

    That hasn't been necessary for the past few decades, but in 1984 it was very important. That was the year the insurgent candidates got something like 2/3 of the vote and the candidate of the party establishment (county, district, state party people, some elected officials) got the rest of the vote. In that situation, understanding the rules really matters:

    *timeline? delegate selection held as a sep. meeting or part of district and state central comm. meetings? logistics for the process (incl. voting delegates allowed to choose only one presidential caucus instead of going from caucus to caucus as voting goes on to avoid mischief)

    *must one still be an elected pct. person to vote on delegates? can any registered Dem. run for delegate if they submit an application on time? where does one submit an application and what is the deadline?

    *are the delegate selection rules at the national level printed yet? are there printed state rules? To have a Feb. presidential primary, people devoted to a candidate should start thinking about the logistics of winning a Feb. primary and then getting their delegates elected (as I recall, there are lots of sub-categories and no one knows how many delegate slots will be available to a campaign until after the primary--in some states there has been a surprise winner and not enough people applied to fill the slots)sometime between mid-summer and Thanksgiving. Whether anyone from the national campaign would be sent to Oregon exactly a year from now give or take a few weeks, or if it would be a totally local operation, would be another thing to think about.

    *whatever happened to a paragraph in the rules titled "presidential candidate right of approval"? Basically the question is whether anyone can run for delegate (meaning the most well known have the best chance of winning) or whether the presidential campaign (at the national level with local input) can decide to follow a set of rules which can allow them to choose activists who may never have been in politics before---providing they have enough people submit applications to be delegate and follow certain other rules.

    *what are the rules for non-committed delegates and "superdelegates" (elected official/party leader)?

    Delegate selection rules are the definition of arcane, but in a wide open race they can make a real difference. I know so much about how they were once written because I was a 1984 delegate and part of the process of rewriting the rules in the period 1984-88. My interests were in having the rules in plain English (to the extent that is possible) and one particular paragraph. Lots of volunteer hours by lots of people went into writing those rules at all levels.

    As I recall, the current criteria for being on the Oregon presidential ballot is something like the Sec. of State determining their viability. How would that be determined in late 2007 (surely when the decision would have to be made for a Feb. primary)---money? poll rankings?

    A presidential primary should stand on its own--why should candidates for other offices be slogging thru what might be the weather we have endured this week just to run in a legislative or statewide primary?

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    Phen: I think I already addressed #2 in another comment, but let me know if not. As for #1: Counties don't pay for federal elections; the state does and with the revenue it would bring to Oregon, it's a worthwhile expense.

    And yes Andrew S. Wikipedia misses the mark on that one.

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    It would appear that Wikipedia has already been fixed. All hail Wikipedia!

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    Some states have to be at or near the tail end. That's the way it is. As for front-loading, the problem there is that someone could get nominated before any or enough bad things about him could be exposed.

    Bob Tiernan

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    O.K. Lots of great comments, but how do we make it so? Oregon Legislature passes a law? Would Gov. K sign it? Is it too late to get this done during this legislative session?

  • Ray Cooper (unverified)

    Best idea I've heard for a long time. What practical steps can we take to help make it a reality?

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Let's have the primary on Xmas Day 2007 and really get the drop on the rest of the country, especially the Bible Belt. I mean, this is the Great State of the Unchurched.

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    LQ -- can't do it before February 5, as Jesse pointed out above.

    Pat & Ray -- the legislature can do it by statute.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    We should definitely move up all primaries so that the candidates are selected by the beginning of 2008. This will then allow 10+ months for a stupendously expensive general election campaign, providing more time than ever for attack ads, swift-boating, ad nauseum, thereby alienating as many voters as possible and keeping down turnout in November to the True Believers. This approach will provide the punditocracy increased opportunities to perform election post mortems to bemoan the unhealthy state of our political system and call for campaign-finance reform.

    Has anyone heard of the tragedy of the commons?

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    lin quao:

    Your objections are all worthwhile, regarding the system as a whole. But are you seriously suggesting that Oregonians should take the quixotic high ground on this, depriving ourselves of a significant role in the process, simply because other states refuse to give up their privileged status?

    Why not address your concerns to blueNH.com (or whatever they have), or the DNC?

    It's not up to us Oregonians alone to determine how the national system works, but it's definitely in our interest to make sure we have a seat at the table.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Mr. Forsyth--your reply is about as perfect a demonstration of what I meant by tragedy of the commons

    as I can think of. Thanks!

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    I believe strongly that our nation should move to a presidential primary system that rotates states and rotates regions. It should start later, and run longer, allowing tier-two candidates a chance to develop grassroots momentum.

    But in the absence of such a reform, I think Oregon could play a key role is shaping the debate by scheduling our vote-by-mail primary earlier - and as part of a nascent Western Tuesday.

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    I'm one of the people who worked on the rules we used in 2004, and am chair of the committee that's working on them for 2008. We haven't seen the draft plan from the DNC Rules Committee yet, but we'll be getting training on it at the DNC meeting on Feb. 3. I really don't have a preference as to what Oregon should do, but I do want to point out a few things. Oregon's been pretty much ignored (except by Dennis Kucinich, who was able to claim residency here in the spring of 2004), because our primary's so late. The last time the Oregon presidential primary had significance was in 1968, when Gene McCarthy beat Bobby Kennedy. Moving it up would be fun and exciting, but I'm not sure it would make Oregon much of a player -- Feb. 5 is going to be a busy day, and we could get lost in the shuffle. Still, we'd probably get more attention than we do now, and we'd have a lot more of a choice, and that would be nice. I didn't have a chance to vote for my first choice in 2004, and my guess is, I'm not the only one. This time, though, there will be an advantage to staying late. If our primary stays where it is, the proposed rules for the convention will give Oregon a 10 percent bonus, which is five more delegates. A late primary means that fewer delegate candidates will be eliminated (delegate candidates who sign up for a candidate who gets less than 15 percent cannot run) and more slots to be elected from. Is that worth staying late? I'm not sure. But I do remember the huge numbers of people who filed to run for delegate in 2004, and I expect that will happen again -- because lots and lots of people want to be part of this. So, the choice is: Do we make primary voters happier early, or delegate candidates happier later?

  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    Why not get a bill introduced that incorporates Kari's idea on rotating the selection regionally? That is, sub-(a) says Oregon's presidential primary is now the first Tuesday in February, sub-(b) says that sub-(a) will become inoperative once the national parties adopt a regional system. That sort of thing would put Oregon at the front of real reform.

    While we're at it --and I know this is off-topic -- shouldn't we do away with "Superdelegates"?? If they want to hand out nonvoting seats to party elders, great. It'd be nice to see the Democratic Party attempt to be democratic for a change.


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    I'd love to see a rotating regional presidential primary system. Unfortunately, we aren't going to ever see a state acting in a regional interest -- it will act on its own interest as it sees it, and none other. The only way to do that would be to nationalize the election process.

    Superdelegates were eliminated in the 1970s, but it didn't last.

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    By the way, just looking at recent primary #'s. The last time we had a presidential primary seperate from the regular primary election (1996), 56% of registered voters turned out. Two months later in the regular primary, 66% voted. In 2000, when no voter had a real choice in the race (Bush and Gore long ago had it locked up), 51% was the turnout. 2004 had a much higher turnout, but I doubt Kucinich's inclusion on the ballot had much to do with that. Bottom line is that I don't think that we can go anywhere near assuming that an early primary would depress turnout in the regular primary.

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    I'd like to point out one thing-- there was a second candidate who didn't ignore Oregon and that was Howard Dean. Having helped put together events when he came to town, and passed out materials sent here from the campaign office, I can assure you he didn't ignore Oregon.

    However, Kucinich and Dean weren't the norm. The two front runners ignored Oregon until they needed us to win the general.

    As someone who fought hard for one of those delegate spots in 2004 (and plan to do so again in 2008), I would much rather actually have a say in who the nominee is than to have a greater chance of going to the national convention.

    Personally, I think the way to make delegates happier is to change the process we use here to select who goes (i.e., removing bullet voting, require some sort of participation in the party for at least a large chunk of the positions, etc.). While it may make some of the people who feel they will be guaranteed a place every time unhappy, it will help make it easier for those who give tons of time and effort to the party, but never get to go to these things.

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    Hey Jenni -- Dean was never on the ballot here and the grassroots effort in Oregon that led to a couple of really cool Dean events pales in comparison to what it will be like. Of course Dean didn't ignore Oregon... but outside of the early summer visit, did he ever come here without fundraising?

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    Frank is right. The presidential money system is broken. That's neither here nor there, though.

    Ah, yes, the issue is we want the obscene gobs of corporate and lobbyist money spent here rather than there. I'm sure KGW and Fox will be ever so grateful for enriching their bottom line with expensive sound bites, while they get a pass on actually providing news coverage of politics.

    The fact that the system is broken and the corpse of "public campaign finance reform" is now --officially-- starting to, well, stink...that's all neither here nor there. There's money to be made in this $1 billion presidential run...I mean to say, "It's time to give Oregonians a voice! Power to the People!" (trademark DufayCommunicationsGroup LLC).

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    Requiring a level of participation before allowing someone to be a candidate for delegate would open us up to serious charges of rigging. How can we do the kind of outreach we are expected to do and then have a rule that requires previous involvement in the party? By the time the DNC approves our plan, and we start holding meetings around the state to publicize it, that window would be closed.

    As for bullet voting, it might be nice to prohibit it, but I don't think we should be telling people how to vote. I don't know what it was like in the 3rd district (where competition was awfully tough in 2004), but I really didn't see much of that in the 2nd district and at the state convention. I helped count ballots, and nearly all of the ones I saw were filled out.

  • LT (unverified)

    require some sort of participation in the party for at least a large chunk of the positions, Jenni, Hotly contested primaries (as 1984 was) can bring people into their first campaign ever (as I'm sure Dean did) while people who are very involved in the party may end up backing an "establishment" candidate which can come in a distant second place. Delegates (last time I heard) go proportionally to candidates dep. on how well they do in the primary.

    I'll let Wayne K. explain if it is still in the rules, but "presidential candidate right of selection" in delegate selection rules is a mechanism for the winning presidential candidate (assuming enough people file and the rules are followed) to make a decision at the national level saying the campaign (in practice meaning the state/local campaign) has a say in who runs for delegate, thus making it easier for people active in the campaign but not well known to the party to have a chance to be elected delegate.

    Ron Wyden, Earl B. David Wu, Barbara Roberts, Rod Monroe were delegates I knew when I was a 1984 delegate. I'm just not sure how many people who entered Oregon politics in the last decade and a half can imagine what a truly contested Oregon primary is like---and given the delegate bonus for later primaries, it could be hotly contested whenever the primary is scheduled--call me a dreamer if you like.

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    I realize Dean wasn't on the primary ballot here. But he did spend quite a bit of time coming to Oregon even though our primary was late. And of course there will be a fundraiser-- it'd be a waste of resources not to hold one.

    Actually, the 3rd CD was pretty good. It was the state convention where it was a problem. People who were in the top 5 on the first ballot didn't make it because on subsequent ballots there was bullet voting.

    I understand the need to bring in new people, but going to the national convention has been typically a reward one gets for all the time, effort, etc. they've put in. It's only fair that those who have put in the time get to go, not just those who are able to bring in a large contingency with them.

    I'm not talking about rigging anything. I'm just saying there be a minimum number of positions that go to people who have put in a certain amount of time with the party over the prior few years. There's nothing like seeing a dozen people chosen who you've never seen at a dem meeting, volunteer event, etc. just because they brought a large group of voting delegates with them.

    I'd also like to see there be some kind of rule to make sure people from various areas of the state get elected. To make sure the coast, central Oregon, eastern Oregon, etc. are all represented. Here in Multnomah County that is a huge problem, as you end up with all the delegates from west of 50th street, when you still have more than half the county to the east, including the 4th largest city in the state. There needs to be some kind of geographical parity.

  • LT (unverified)

    Jenni, I think what you are talking about is super delegates, elected officials, and "party leader" slots. The latter went to everything from state officers not already going, to district chairs, county chairs, etc. As I recall, if there are more delegate slots than people holding party office filed for X candidate in the party leader category, "party leader" can extend all the way down to elected pct. people.

    This is why it is important to read and understand delegate selection rules once published, and it sounds like Wayne K. understands the current process as well as anyone.

    But here is the problem: At least when I was involved, applications for delegate had to be submitted before the primary. Then if all the old time party people back someone (for sake of argument, say Hillary Clinton) and either Obama or Edwards wins the primary, there is a certain number of delegates going to Clinton as long as she got the threshold (15% in my day) and the rest of the delegates to the winner and maybe 2nd place if she was 3rd. So, if you as a party activist signed up for a candidate who lost (like Mondale delegate candidates in 1984) you'd be competing with other people who chose the same candidate.

    This is an old argument--Mondale people who had to compete against each other and sometimes got alternate slots because there just weren't enough delegate slots for all of them sounded really offended that they didn't all become delegates. But their candidate didn't win, so they didn't get as many slots. That's what "to be a delegate you have to understand the rules and also back the right horse" means.

    There have been cases in history where the upset winner of a primary qualified for maybe 12 delegates and only 12 people had signed up to be delegates for that person, so they all 12 became delegates.

    In a contested convention (and it could happen again if all the stars aligned), the presidential candidates want delegates who care first about their campaign, their platform positions, their views on rules if it comes to that. That is why some campaigns want to reward the person who spent all their free time for months over someone who is well known in the local party but didn't lift a finger (or campaigned for another candidate).

    What is "bullet voting"? Never heard that term before--but then it has been over a decade since I had anything to do with delegate selection.

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    Nope, not talking about super delegates. I'm talking about people who get a large number of people signed up as voting members at the state convention for the expressed purpose of getting certain people elected. I'm not going to go into the who, but I can assure you this happened quite a bit.

    Bullet voting is when you have a ballot and it says "vote for 8" and you instead vote for only the few people you absolutely want to go in order to keep everyone else's numbers down. This is fine when one of two people do it, but when an entire group of people plan to do this, and enact it, it hurts everyone else. It basically ensures their people will be elected and hardly anyone else.

    We were going for the Kerry delegate positions, which were very highly contested. There were some of us who had worked quite a bit of time not just on the party, but by that time quite a bit for Kerry. It wasn't just that we were active for the party, but its candidates as well. That's the people I'd like to see going to the convention-- not those who are able to get a contingency of people to come as delegates.

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    Jenni, you're mistaken about bullet voting at the state convention. There was talk about it, and there was an attempt to have a vote to prohibit that failed, but there was very little of it. As I wrote before, I was in the room when those ballots were being counted, and the overwhelming majority of the ballots were filled out completely. People like voting and most don't want to short themselves.

    People who were in the top five on the first ballot stayed there because delegates were not changing their votes on subsequent ballots. They were voting the full ballot, but for pretty much the same people. It was interesting to go through the ballots and see the results essentially stay the same through the second and third ballots.

    As for geographic representation, that's what the CD conventions are for.

  • LT (unverified)

    Jenni, You have just explained the problems with complex voting systems, which is why some people don't jump on the IRV / fusion voting, etc. bandwagons without asking lots of questions.

    When I ran for delegate, I'd held a local title (unpaid but with a title) in the presidential campaign. I'd come very close to being elected a delegate at the district level, and several friends formed a committee to help me win at the state level (luckily I had filed at both levels). I worked hard to be elected by doing things like calling all voting state delegates across the state supporting our candidate. I was too concentrated on my own race to know if people played games like you describe with other committed delegates, although the "uncommitted" delegates did end up getting chosen by the majority elected to the state convention representing the winning candidate.

    Given that M B Cahill ran the Kerry campaign, I wonder exactly how much of a role the national campaign had in 2004 Oregon delegate selection (MBC once ran an Oregon campaign which was not well managed).

    Here is what else my friends and I did to get me elected in 1984: In the days before desktop publishing, it turned out one supporter worked in a copy place and helped design both fliers to give people and stickers for my supporters to wear. We had a campaign committee of sorts (aka several friends helping), a speech writing committee which spent a couple hours with me perfecting a 2 minute speech, people at the convention giving out fliers and stickers. When I got to state convention, it appeared half the delegates were wearing the stickers, and when I was interrupted by applause I guessed I would probably win and I was right.

    If you don't like "bullet voting", talk to Wayne K. off the blog and ask if it can be prohibited by the state rules.

    But the bottom line is this: it isn't about who helps the party, as by definition a contested nomination splits the party. It is about who helps the presidential campaign. In my case I was asked to run for delegate by local leadership. I spent much of my spare time during the primary in the local campaign office, was local volunteer coordinator and the person charged with understanding the rules so I could explain them to everyone else.

    Jenni, if you really want to be a 2008 delegate, I'd suggest you decide which candidate you support by sometime in 2007. Then when there begin to be Oregon operations for that candidate (or if you want to help start the Oregon campaign yourself) that you get in on the ground floor, and be well known to the local campaign.

    With regard to

    "I'm talking about people who get a large number of people signed up as voting members at the state convention for the expressed purpose of getting certain people elected.",

    our local campaign didn't get off the ground in Oregon until Super Tuesday when a family friend of the candidate who lived in Oregon had a local organizing event. From then until the primary, we had weekly local meetings and a campaign office in donated space. Not sure what you mean by "signed up as voting members at the state convention for the expressed purpose of getting certain people elected"---in 1984 only elected pct. people could vote for delegate, so we had to run write in campaigns for pct. person. It is totally within the rules as I knew them to run for pct. person for the express purpose of being part of the delegate selection process.

    Sorry if that bothers you, but historically that sort of activity is what brings new blood into party politics. We newly elected pct. people had an effect on reorganization after the election, but I can't see how that is breaking the rules. I was elected to State and Dist. Central Comm. by people I had met on the campaign.

    Things may have been diff. in 2004, I don't know. I would suggest talking with folks who remember previous delegate selection, and talking to those like Wayne K. (and who is the current chair of State Rules?) and learning more about how the process is supposed to run. Details matter.

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    Wayne K wrote Moving it up would be fun and exciting, but I'm not sure it would make Oregon much of a player -- Feb. 5 is going to be a busy day, and we could get lost in the shuffle.

    Yeah, that would be true if Oregon had traditional voting. But we have vote-by-mail. Our ballots will go almost immediately after the Iowa Caucus - before Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

    By federal court ruling and by DNC rule, our election is still February 5... but with Oregonians voting early, candidates would launch their campaigns here (and start spending money) prior to Iowa.

    This would be HUGE for Oregon.

    (One note for Jenni: Dean spent a lot of time in Oregon because this was ripe turf for $$$ for him. Oregon contributed more money per-capita to Howard than any other state, except Vermont. Which is a good thing, but he wasn't here because he was running an early-starter campaign to win our primary.)

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    Actually, myself and a few others were in the top 5 on the first ballot and were not selected as delegates. So obviously what you'd said was not true. I got my reports regarding bullet voting straight from people who were in there casting ballots. This information came from more than one source throughout the day.

    We tried to have bullet voting thrown out right from the beginning, but were told the rules could not be changed. It wasn't so much that it failed as it wasn't allowed.


    If I remember correctly, any registered dem can sign up to be a voting delegate at the state convention. That means you can get a big group of people together, get them all signed up, and then use their votes to ensure you are elected a delegate.

    I always choose my candidate early. I'd chosen Dean by mid 2003. I did a lot of work on his campaign, running Meetups, helping at the caucuses in Washington, and more. Having been a big part of Oregon for Dean, I can assure you he was here for more than just the money. We did a ton of work in other states-- writing letters, physically going and volunteering, making calls, etc. I'm sure anyone who worked on Oregon for Dean can tell you the same thing. For those outside it may have appeared it was all about the money, but it wasn't. Not only did we bring in more money than other state than Vermont, we also wrote more letters, put in more volunteer hours, etc. We had one of the largest rallies for Dean (Sleepless Summer). We were in the tops for just about everything. It was about a heck of a lot more than money.

    I'm already watching the candidates who have come out thus far, trying to narrow down who I'm going to support. I always prefer to get involved early, as you get a greater say in the activities that will happen in the state, can take on leadership roles, etc. I'm never one for sitting around and waiting until the last minute.

    And I don't think it is just up to the CDs to ensure geographical parity. You can try to get it there, but that doesn't always happen. Those areas missing can then be made up at the state convention, just as we do to ensure there is a broad mix of ethnic groups and the like. Ensuring we have people from all the major areas of the state is just as important, especially if we're truly honest about caring about more than the population centers of the state.

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    That above comment should have said those counting ballots, not casting. Although I can say that I heard people talking both before and after voting about how they'd planned to - and did - do exactly that. And we're not talking about small numbers of people.


    And I must say my comments about the process are nothing new. Many of us have already expressed these to the DPO several times before. I'd encourage others who have seen problems with the process to send in their comments as well (constructive please, not just yelling and screaming) so that the process can be improved.

    It's absolutely ridiculous when a campaign says that those with low incomes shouldn't even be considered because they can't afford to go. Yet this happened in 2004. I certainly hope things are better in 2008. Because it shouldn't matter how much money you have-- there's always the ability to do fundraisers, get donations from people, maybe your family lives there in that town, etc. It should matter that you've been a dedicated volunteer and have worked hard.

  • LT (unverified)

    Jenni---talk to Wayne K and the chair of State Rules off the blog and learn about the process as it is planned to be done for 2008. From what Wayne said, maybe it is not too late to change the 2008 rules. Rules are written way in advance and people who have studied the rules don't want to see them changed at the last minute. I would have been really ticked, having spent so much time studying the rules and explaining them to others, if someone had tried to change the rules at the 1984 state campaign. If you want everyone to vote for as many candidates are there are slots, pass a rule saying ballots with not all the blanks filled out won't be counted, or something. That's what rules committees are all about.

    As far as

    "If I remember correctly, any registered dem can sign up to be a voting delegate at the state convention. That means you can get a big group of people together, get them all signed up, and then use their votes to ensure you are elected a delegate."

    I'd nail that down now. Either any registered Dem. could be a voting delegate at the CD level, (when did that happen? used to have to be pct. people) or one has to be a pct. person at the CD level.

    When I ran for delegate, the CD elected the state convention delegates, and people who wanted to run both at the CD and state level had to file that way before the primary. Either that is still the way it is, or it has changed, but either way the people to ask are those who understand how the rules are written--not other people on a blog.

    As far as "geographic diversity" is concerned, our CD (5th) had delegates from the Salem area and from Linn County, and other CDs contributed people from the Portland metro area, from Eugene, and from Bend and S. Oregon. That should be the job of the presidential campaign to find such people, not the job of the DPO which should be neutral in such a primary.

  • LT (unverified)

    Woops--what I meant was "the 1984 state convention".

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    To be a delegate at the CD and state level you fill out a form. The one for 2004 asked whether you wanted to be a voting delegate as well as whether you wanted to run to be a national delegate.

    Those people then voted on the national delegates.

    Everything went pretty well at the 3rd CD meeting, other than the fact half the Congressional District was completely unrepresented in the people chosen. It was the state convention that made a lot of people quite unhappy with the process.

    We turned in comments about it after the convention, and have done so since. I know I've talked to Wayne about it a few times and have sent him at least one e-mail on the subject. I'm hoping that our comments to him as well as others will mean some changes will be made.

    In my opinion it's best to not only have a mix of ethnicities and those who are gay or straight, it's also important to have a mix of people from various areas of the state, ages, and economic backgrounds. Our delegation should be representative of this state, and I just don't feel it was in 2004.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I'm not enthused about this. I remember in '96 when we had an early primary a couple of weeks after New Hampshire, with the ballots mailed out right after New Hampshire. Bob DOle campaigned here for a day, while Buchanan, Forbes, Alexander, and the others totally ignored Oregon. This is what happens to states when they jump into the front loaded traffic jam of primaries/caucuses. In '88, the Southern states joined together for a massive "Super Tuesday", and candidates were reduced to briefly touching down at airports in the different states, with no real presence in any state.

    When there has been any competitive race at all by May, Oregon has received more candidate time than the early states, especially when you look at the time/money spent per voter. I can remember in '84 when Gary Hart campaigned throughout Oregon for three or four days, even rafting the Deschutes. Jesse Jackson spent even more time in '88 ( I went his huge rally in Redmond) and Dukakis spent a couple of days here. Clinton and Brown both spent several days here in '92 and ran TV ads. If Oregon moves up, we will be ignored in favor of the South, NY, IL, OH, etc...

    Also, states that have moved ahead in the past haven't influenced the process. South Dakota moved up to a week after NH in '88, and their voters picked Bob Dole and Dick Geopahrdt, as well as Bobby Kerrey in '92. All of them bit the dust int he states that followed.

    One other problem with the idea. The early primary will be only for presidential candidates. We almost surely will keep the May primary for state/local candidates, as we did in '96, which will result in a lower turnout local primary. The state will also then have to pay for two primary elections.

  • Chris (unverified)


    Are you positive that the voter turnout figure for the 1996 primary (66%) is correct? If that number is correct, it would certainly be a shocking one.

    The Secretary of State's figures on the 1996 primary election show an overall turnout of 38%. Multnomah County's figures on turnout corroborates the state's data, and the turnout is even lower, at 33%.

    If these numbers are correct, then there is more to the argument that an earlier presidential primary draws attention away from the May primary.

    Or am I missing something?

  • Chris (unverified)

    I should add, however, that in spite of the evidence I've just posted, I still don't necessarily agree with the argument that holding more than one primary thins out participation.

    38% participation in the non-presidential portion of the 1996 primary shouldn't be considered a terribly depressed figure, especially relative to other primary elections on which presidential candidates do not appear. (Turnout in the 1998 primary was in the low 30s, turnout in 2002 was around 46%) In a way, 38% participation on the non-presidential races in 1996 was somewhat normal.

    Splitting the primary elections has the effect of not so much depressing turnout, but sacrificing the "turnout boost" that presidential candidates provide.

    Maybe someone else has run these figures, but I'm curious about how much the listing of presidential candidates on a primary ballot gets people to vote on races in which they wouldn't otherwise choose to cast a vote?

  • Dave Kaplan (unverified)

    It is time to stop the primary date "arms race". Of course, everyone thinks that they have a "god given" right to have disproportionate influence on the national agenda. Rather than spending the energy in an effort to cut to the front of the line, Oregon Democrats should lead the national discussion about general primary reform.

    Five or six regional primaries (or caucuses at the discretion of the state) should be held between March and June. The dates for the initial primary slots should be determined by a random lottery. From that point forward, the dates would rotate so that each region would realize the advantage of an early presidential primary.

    The current system is a zero sum game. Rather than try to game an unfair system to our advantage (to the detriment of citizens of other states), we should be working toward a process that provides a forum for regional issues, protects the interests of small states, and provides for equitable engagement in the candidate selection process for all citizens.

    Dave Kaplan

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    From this morning's NY Times...and nary a word about Oregon's move to be a "player".

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 — As many as four big states — California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey — are likely to move up their 2008 presidential primaries to early next February, further upending an already unsettled nominating process and forcing candidates of both parties to rethink their campaign strategies, party officials said Wednesday.

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