Tomorrow, August 26, 2014, is the final day of voting for our primary election in Florida. To all my Democratic friends on the ballot, thank you for running and good luck!
Last week, the Association of State Democratic Chairs and the Democratic National Committee met for our Summer Meetings in Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t know if it was the fact Democrat and President Carter’s grandson State Senator Jason Carter is running ahead to be the next Governor of Georgia or if was Michelle Nunn looking like she might be the next Senator from Georgia or if it was just the face that Georgia Democrats are on fire, Atlanta Georgia was steaming HOT!
The Association of State Democratic Chairs members meeting filled the day on August 21 st. We received broad updates from the ASDC leadership and DNC staff on everything from polling to new technology. These meetings are always a good energy recharge and political network opportunity.
Rules and Bylaws and the 2016 convention
The Democratic National Committee kicked of the first of the three-day schedule on Thursday afternoon with several Council meetings. But the real work and interest began at 9:30 AM on August 22 nd. I attended The Rules and Bylaws Committee as they met to finalize their recommendation for the Rules and Call for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
During the last few months we have lost many friends, one of the losses was Marne Reiley a DNC member and a member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz nominated Virginia At-Large member Susan Swecker to fill the vacancy on the Rules and Bylaws Committee. (On Saturday, the full DNC body ratified Susan’s appointment).
The committee has been working with DNC staff for months on a working draft document. There were some loose ends and tweaks discussed during the meeting including rules for candidates to gain access to the ballot. One of items hotly discussed was ballot access. States have multiple procedures for ballot access. There was a proposed rule change that would have tightened ballot access via petition. Increasing the threshold to minimize insurgent or marginal candidates. There was a very good discussion of the intent and possible unintended consequences of the proposal. Consideration of significant changes was deferred until after a study could be conducted and staff recommendations made. None would be considered until the 2020 convention call.
Generally the committee approved rules and the Call very similar to the 2012 convention.
The 2016 convention and delegate selection highlights are:
After coordination with the RNC the primary calendar will begin much later than the Christmas-New Years debacle. Avoiding campaigning through the holiday season, Iowa caucuses will be held on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by the rest of the first in the nation states: New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, all in February. The rest of the states will hold their contests between March and June.
- All State delegate selection plans must specify all statutory and Democratic Party filing and petition requirements for presidential candidates and delegates.
- State delegate selection plans must allow for presidential campaign’s right of review deadline for Pledged Party Leaders and Elected Official Delegates (PLEO) following the selection of At-Large delegates and the right of review for At-Large delegates following the selection of PLEO delegates.
- The total number of delegates has been reduced from Charlotte’s DNC all time high of 3700 to 3200. The reduction allows for a greater number of convention sites to compete for the convention.
- The deadline to permanently replace a delegate has been changed from 48 to 72 hours.
- Jumping ahead of my update, the Rules and Call for the 2016 Democratic National Convention passed by the Rules and Bylaws committee was passed without opposition by the full DNC on Saturday morning.
Reminder – This was the National rules and Call issued by the DNC. Each state will receive the final document in the next few weeks. It is each states responsibility to draft their own states plan that complies with the National Rules and Call. The states will finalize their plans by June 25, 2016 and submit it to the DNC for approval.
The DNC rules set the guidelines by rewarding compliance and penalizing noncompliance.
The following cities are competing for the Democratic Convention: Birmingham Alabama, Columbus Ohio, Brooklyn New York, Philadelphia Pennsylvania and Phoenix Arizona.
The first four cities have been working the DNC hard. To garner favor, all three have pulled out all the stops at DNC meetings. Columbus has been working it harder and longer but New York really reached the pinnacle with a reception on Friday night. In the end, DNC staff, based on the cities proposals and of course electoral strategy will decide the site.
- Birmingham has a great position for it’s history and civil rights legacy. But the reality is we were just in a Southern city, Charlotte, North Carolina. So I think the south is a long shot.
- Phoenix has an interesting juxtaposition with the growth of our Hispanic population and the significant immigration and voting rights issues our nation is dealing with. But let’s get real, Democrats have been trying to solve the issues and now it looks like Republicans are just fanning the flames of bigotry and ignoring real reform. GOP strategy: scream, shout, ignore, and repeat. Back to Phoenix, we were East coast in 2012, so is the West Coast an obvious pick? Hotels are spread out and it would make for an uncomfortably hot and long commute for some delegates.
- Columbus – Battle ground state and the Republicans have already announced their convention in Cleveland. Should be go head to head with them on the same turf? Well what more needs to be said, Ohio is always in play.
- New York and Philadelphia – Great Democratic cities in great labor states, huge TV markets and both cities can handle the onslaught without much effort.
My gut: Philadelphia, Columbus and New York, in that order. We should know the final city soon.
DNC Southern Caucus
The DNC Southern Caucus meeting was held on Friday afternoon. We receive briefings from staff on the latest DNC technology and communications. There was a LOT of energy in the room about the communication plan for GOTV for this cycle. After much discussion, the chair appointed me to a 5 person ad hoc committee to work with DNC communication Director Mo Elleithee to formulate a Southern strategy.
Free at last free at last, DNC is nearly debt free!
On the final day, Saturday, August 23, 2014 the DNC met in general session and passed the Convention Rules and Call as well as numerous commemorative resolutions but the highlight of the day was the announcement we have reduced our debt from a high of nearly $23 million to less than $2 million. All bank loans have been paid off and remaining debt is to vendors.
And it wouldn’t be a party without some excitement and drama! Marne Reiley had been the Women’s Caucus Chair. With her passing the caucus there was a vacancy to be filled and that is where the fund started weeks ago. Former mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, Lottie Shackelford and former long time DNC Secretary Alice Germond were locked in a tough battle for caucus chair. Nancy Pelosi supported Alice and Lottie was supported by DWS.
Well let’s just say the heavy arm twisting and tension filled the air right up until the women’s caucus met. Just to be clear, I am not a member of the women’s caucus and I did not have a dog in the fight. I know both Lottie and Alice and they are both incredible women.
After the dust settled Lottie was elected by a slim margin. In a class act of unity, Alice moved to have the Lottie elected unanimously by the caucus body.
In other news – Florida Democrats will unite to elect Democrats
This Thursday, August 28, 2014 the Florida Democratic Party has organized two post primary UNITY rallies. The first will be this Thursday morning in Orlando and the second will be later that same day in Ft. Lauderdale. Gov. Charlie Crist, Senator Nan Rich, George Sheldon and Rep. Perry Thurston will join party leaders to show solidarity and kick off our road to a November victory.