DNC Expected to Keep Iowa, NH First-in-the-Nation
(CNSNews.com) - The Democratic National Committee's Rules and By-Laws Committee is expected to back a measure which will allow Iowa and New Hampshire to retain their "first-in-the nation" caucus and primary status, according to the Manchester Union Leader, New Hampshire's state-wide newspaper.
According to DNC Rules Committee member and Manchester Attorney Joe Keefe, the decision should be formalized April 29th, although initial agreement was reached over the weekend in Washington.
"This is basically very good news for New Hampshire. We're celebrating over this," Keefe said.
Keefe attributed the committee's decision to Vice President Al Gore, whose victory in the February 1st primary was the start of his clinching of the nomination.
In addition to Gore, New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen also spoke in favor of the current system that allows New Hampshire and Iowa to go first.
Shaheen endorsed Gore prior to the primary election while her husband, Bill, served as the vice president's Granite State campaign manager. Others supporting New Hampshire and Iowa were Gore's national campaign manager, Donna Brazille, and Elaine Kamarck, a high-level policy advisor.
According to Keefe, the committee turned thumbs down on a plan by the National Association of Secretary of States that called for the creation of four regional primary contests to be rotated every four years. The committee also rejected a Delaware proposal that would have allowed smaller states to hold their primaries first.
Keith told the Union Leader, "The committee decided it would be wrong to completely throw out the traditional rule and replace it with some overly-engineered plan."
Keefe also said the DNC would try to convince the Republican National Committee to adopt the same plan. An RNC committee also is struggling with proposals to address the primary process in 2004.
Members of both parties have been critical of the current primary schedule that front-loaded this year's contests in an effort to give larger states an earlier and more definitive say in the selection process.