The Four State Pledge and the RBC

In light of the RBC meeting today, I want to repost the text of the Four State Pledge that was signed by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. I orginally posted it in September last year when all the candidates agreed that the Michigan and Florida primaries would not be treated as legitimate.

Dear Democratic Presidential Candidate:

Throughout 2005 and 2006, the  Democratic National Committee worked diligently to establish a presidential nominating calendar that would ensure victory for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee, preserve the traditional role of retail politics early in the nominating process and to include the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity that makes this Party great.

In 2006, through a fair and open process conducted by the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina were selected for the “pre-window.”  The calendar was approved by the full DNC over a year ago.  We are in agreement that the states chosen by our party reflect the energy and diversity of our great country and our party.

Recent actions by a few states could dismantle this thoughtful and deliberate effort by the DNC. Presidential campaigns, county chairs, elected officials, activists and the media have reached out and asked for our help in bringing this uncertainty (and potential chaos) to an end. Campaigns need to make major spending decisions.  County Chairs need to find precinct locations and precinct chairs.  Elected officials need to finalize election logistics.  As a party we owe it to these organizations and individuals to conduct a sensible and timely nominating process.

For the good of our party and our candidates, it is our desire to bring finality, predictability and common sense to the nominating calendar.  We ask you to accept the attached four state pledge, steeped in established DNC rules, by signing and sending the pledge form by Thursday, September 6, 2007, via email to South Carolina Chairwoman Carol Fowler at Please also mail a hard copy to Chairwoman Fowler at SCDP, PO Box 5965, Columbia, SC 29250.

We appreciate your consideration of this pledge which brings order to the presidential nominating calendar.  We look forward to focusing on electing a President, rather than selecting dates.  If you or your staff has any questions, please contact any of the four State Party Chairs or Executive Directors.

Thank you,

Senator Tom Harkin                   Governor Chet Culver                

Chair Scott Brennan, Iowa Dem. Party

Senator Harry Reid

Chair Jill Derby, Nevada State Democratic Party

Chair Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Dem. Party

Congressman Jim Clyburn

Chair Carol Fowler, South Carolina Dem. Party

Four State Pledge Letter 2008

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina

August 31, 2007

WHEREAS,  Over a year ago, the Democratic National Committee established a 2008 nominating calendar;

WHEREAS, this calendar honors the racial, ethnic, economic and geographic diversity of our party and our country;

WHEREAS, the DNC also honored the traditional role of retail politics early in the nominating process, to insure that money alone will not determine our presidential nominee;

WHEREAS, it is the desire of Presidential campaigns, the DNC, the states and the American people to bring finality, predictability and common sense to the nominating calendar.

THEREFORE, I _______________, Democratic Candidate for President, pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus  before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as “campaigning” is defined by rules and regulations of the DNC.

___________________________                       __________
John/Jane Doe, Doe for President                         DATE

In light of their interpretation of the wording, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden decided to pull their names of the Michigan ballot before the deadline. The other two signatories (Clinton and Dodd) did not. The point of this pledge was to ensure that the candidates respected the rules and the primary calendar, something that Hillary Clinton did until it became clear that the rules as they stood would not allow her to win.

Once that was realized, she turned her back on her own statements made before the early states voted. While promising not to “campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina” doesn’t necessarily mean promising not to campaign for a delegate slate from those states favoring oneself, it should be pretty clear to anyone with a conscience that the rhetorical about face violates the spirit of fairness.

That said, I think that the main issue at this point is determining what the DNC’s position on enforcing its own rules is.  It’s hard for me to see Clinton winning, even if all delegates are seated 100% as determined by the illegitimate January primaries in Florida and Michigan.

While I would like to see representation from those states at the convention, for the sake of party unity and ensuring that voters there feel represented, it’s hard to give them full representation in light of their blatant violation of the rules, both in Florida and in Michigan.

While Florida has a Republican legislature and a Republican governor, it should be noted that there was no protest vote against the primary date coming from the Democrats and the Florida Democratic Party declined the offer of a DNC-funded caucus.  Clearly there were some powerful voices in the Florida Democratic Party that wanted to violated the schedule.  That would be fine as a protest if they weren’t putting their constituents’ voices on the line rather than their own.

It’s a very difficult decision that the Rules and Bylaws Committee has to make, and I don’t envy them in making this decision, but I do want to remind observers of the reality of what happened.  This isn’t a simple case of Florida and Michigan being disenfranchised but rather a case of officials in those two states protesting the unanimously agreed upon primary schedule by breaking the rules at the expense of their constituents.

Ideally, the states would be stripped of superdelegates and re-votes would be held, but I understand that there were greater political and financial complications that prevent that from happening.


About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
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