Showing posts with label Tom Perez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Perez. Show all posts

Monday, February 15, 2021

Former DNC Chair Perez Calls the Calendar Status Quo "Unacceptable"

In a sit-down with The New York Times, former DNC Chair Tom Perez was asked about the case for continuing with Iowa and New Hampshire at the beginning of the Democratic presidential primary calendar. He painted an ominous picture for the two traditional two states on the calendar:
Q: Should Iowa and New Hampshire keep going first in the presidential nominating process?  
A: That will be up to the D.N.C.’s Rules and Bylaws Committee.  
Q: I’m aware. But what does the private citizen Tom Perez think? 
A: A diverse state or states need to be first. The difference between going first and going third is really important. We know the importance of momentum in Democratic primaries.  
Q: I’ll try one more time. Could you make a case for defending Iowa and New Hampshire going first?  
A: The status quo is clearly unacceptable. To simply say, “Let’s just continue doing this because this is how we’ve always done it,” well, Iowa started going as an early caucus state, I believe, in 1972. The world has changed a lot since 1972 to 2020 and 2024. And so the notion that we need to do it because this is how we’ve always done it is a woefully insufficient justification for going first again.  
This is the Democratic Party of 2020. It’s different from the Democratic Party in how we were in 1972. And we need to reflect that change. And so I am confident that the status quo is not going to survive.
As FHQ mentioned on Twitter a day ago, this is not revelatory from Perez. He discussed the wisdom in continuing to protect Iowa and New Hampshire just after the primary in the Granite state in 2020 and has regularly raised the importance of diversity early on in the nomination process. The former chair dipped back into both wells in his comments to the NYT. 

But a former national party chair is still a former national party chair. Folks of that ilk go on to do a lot of things, but directly influencing the formalizing of national party rules is not always among them. However, where Perez may have some influence is in continuing to give voice to this viewpoint that the status quo on the calendar is no longer acceptable. It is not as if the Iowa and New Hampshire question is going to disappear for Democrats. 

It is not. 

Yet, this keeps the issue salient in a time that is usually very quiet on the rules front (just after a presidential election year), but in a period in the lead up to an expected autopsy from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee on the 2020 process (due out by the end of March). Iowa and New Hampshire and their arguable lack of diversity will be components of that report. Of course, that will only be step one in the process of devising the 2024 delegate selection rules at the national party level. The real work by the DNCRBC will come after that. Talk of change is cheap, but actual change is not. 

But those obstacles are not insurmountable. And Perez's stewardship of the 2020 rules speaks to that. He constantly in introductory statements at Unity Reform Commission or DNCRBC meetings from 2017-18 -- and no doubt behind the scenes -- talked of the "north star" principles of the party. And one of those was participation. The party sought to increase participation in the nomination process by encouraging states to shift from caucuses to primaries and by easing the barriers to registration and voting. The former bore fruit in 2020. Caucus states decreased in number from 14 states in 2016 to three in 2020. [And the pandemic shifted Wyoming toward a mail-in process that did not ultimately qualify as the caucuses the state party intended to conduct.] The party also made efforts to reduce the role of superdelegates in the process -- another thorny issue that looked like a steep uphill climb to achieve -- on Perez's watch. 

That effort took a great deal of work and so, too, will any push to rejigger the beginning of the 2024 Democratic presidential primary calendar. Any constant drumbeat about such a change -- like these comments from Perez -- will only keep the pressure on those in the national party to make a change.