Presidential Primary Reform Gets Another Airing

See if this sounds familiar.

Some politicians, including “powerful” ones, are recommending that something be done about our presidential primary system. Like get rid of the inordinate influence of Iowa and New Hampshire, the demographically-skewed states that front-end and distort the quadrennial process.

This time it’s Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who’s championing a Democratic proposal that would add one or two caucuses after Iowa’s but before New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation primary in early February. “I hope this is the beginning of the end of Iowa and New Hampshire’s dominant role.”

As if. It’s too little and likely to no avail.

New Hampshire even has a law requiring its primary to be scheduled a week or more before any “similar election.”

Levin’s take? “If New Hampshire decides to challenge the proposal, all bets are off,” he acknowledged. Oh.

And earlier this month in Orlando, presumptive 2008 Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner both equivocated – amid responses awash in “grass roots” rhetoric — when asked about diluting the impact of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Expect New Hampshire to challenge if anything comes of the Democratic proposal. And expect Florida to unconscionably remain a primary black hole.

Recall that when New Hampshire voters cast their ballots in 2004, their choices included: Gen. Wesley Clark, former Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, Rev. Al Sharpton and Sen. John Kerry. When Florida Democrats voted, they were handed a Kerry rubberstamp. That’s asinine in a state with the population and diversity of Florida.

Both parties need to get serious about a primary system that ill serves its nominee-picking charge. An election without an incumbent would seem to be propitious timing.

Otherwise, the time is long past to just move on to regional primaries on the same day. What’s not to like? The candidates would do less pandering, and the media wouldn’t be able to play momentum kingmaker.

Those looking for an earlier forum on their electability can always go on Don Imus or Howard Stern.

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