Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Iowa Democratic Draft Delegate Selection Plan Points Toward Changes Ahead

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • Today is deadline day for state parties to submit draft delegate selection plans to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. An update on where that process stands. Also, the Hawaii bid to establish a presidential primary appears to have taken another hit. All the details at FHQ Plus.
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In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
Iowa Democrats (IDP) got a draft in just under the wire. As noted above, it is deadline day for draft delegate selection plans to be submitted to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and the 2024 draft plan is now publicly available from Hawkeye state Democrats. Importantly, IDP indicates that it will conduct caucuses on the same day as Iowa Republicans next year. That fact, alongside the caucus bill that is working its way through the state legislature, would appear to indicate that Democrats in Iowa are prepared to defy DNC rules.

But as FHQ noted yesterday, there seems to be a fundamental misreading of that legislation and how it interacts with the proposed plans for Democratic delegate selection in the state in 2024. Here is the operative section from the draft plan on the proposed scheduling of the delegate selection process in Iowa:
The Iowa Caucuses shall consist of an expression of presidential preference, conducted by mail, AND in-person precinct caucuses. The precinct caucuses will be held in accordance with Iowa Code (ICO 43.4) at least eight days prior to any other state’s presidential nominating contest, on the same date as the Republican Caucuses. The purpose of the precinct caucuses will be to elect unbound delegates to county conventions, elect precinct committee persons, and move platform resolutions to the county convention. No expression of presidential preference will be tabulated at the precinct caucuses. The period for expression of presidential preference by mail will begin and end on dates included in the Iowa Democratic Party Chair’s call to caucus, which shall be issued no later than 90 days prior to the Caucuses.
So what does that suggest? A few things:
  1. The caucuses will coincide with the Republican delegate selection process. That is still likely to be in January 2024.
  2. Note that there is no mention of any "first determining step," the language the DNC uses for when votes are cast to determine delegate allocation.
  3. In fact, that section goes to great lengths to bifurcate the delegate selection and allocation processes. Unbound delegates will be chosen at the likely January precinct caucuses. [Binding is Republican Party language, but FHQ digresses.] No attempt is being made at the precinct caucuses to select delegates pledged to any particular presidential candidate. [There will not, at least under this draft plan, be any slating of delegates before the preference vote.]
  4. The allocation process will be based on the vote-by-mail presidential preference vote, the dates of which are unspecified, and left to remain that way until a caucus call is issued by the Iowa Democratic Party no later than roughly three months before the caucuses (late summer/early fall 2023). That is a tell of sorts. On some level, that issuance of a call rider to the section above allows Iowa Democrats to kick the can down the road a bit on this matter and continue to potentially lobby the DNCRBC for a spot in the early window (should some other previously selected early state fail to comply). And barring that, it simply buys the state party time to figure all of this out (on its own or in conjunction with the DNCRBC).
  5. Look, Iowa Democrats may call this a caucus, but it is not. More than ever before the 2024 plan resembles the Democratic delegate selection/allocation process in most other states. There is, on the one hand, a process, usually a state-run primary, for voters to express presidential preference. The allocation is based on that. And on the other, there is a caucus process designed to actually select the human beings/delegates who will fill those allocated slots. The preference vote Iowa Democrats describe above is a primary. It is a party-run primary by any other name, and allocation will be based on that. Delegate selection will continue to run through the caucus process. Only now, that will potentially begin before the preference vote. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily unusual
Now, flashback to that caucus bill in the legislature. Folks, it got amended before being passed by the state House earlier this week. And the new provisions fit well with the bifurcated process Iowa Democrats detail in their draft delegate selection plan. Many raced to the conclusion that the in-person caucusing component doomed Iowa Democrats' plan. It does not. What the amended bill does do is the same thing that the draft delegate selection plan does: it makes a point to separate out the allocation and selection processes. And that is a big change in Iowa.

In the meantime, recall that this is a draft plan. It will go before the DNCRBC for review and together both sides will hammer out something that works under the new DNC guidelines for 2024. 

...or Iowa Democrats will face penalties. But the plan above makes it more likely that Iowa Democrats will be able to comply.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) looks like he will make a splash in the staff primary by hiring the first woman of color to run a Republican presidential nomination campaign. Jennifer DeCasper may not register as a seasoned hand at the presidential campaign level -- there is no defection here, for instance -- but her hiring carries a certain symbolism to it. 

I don't know, but it seems like maybe Politico is late to this story. Those who have been reading Invisible Primary: Visible this year will know that Trump 2023 is closer to Trump 2019 than Trump 2015 by most measures. And part of that is campaign discipline, something endorsements have continued to show

On this date... 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic caucuses in Colorado 1980, the Texas primary saw frontrunners win on both sides; former California Governor Ronald Reagan on the Republican side and President Carter in the Democratic contest. But that was back when Texas Democrats were using the Texas Two-Step system with delegates allocated in caucuses the same day as the primary. 1988, Vice President Bush swept Republican primaries in Indiana, Ohio and Washington, DC while Jesse Jackson's win in the nation's capital kept Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis from winning all three contests in the Democratic nomination race. 2003, Democrats held their first presidential primary debate of the 2004 cycle. In a mark of how different the era was as compared to now, of the nine debate participants, only three -- Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham and Al Sharpton had officially launched formal presidential campaigns. The remaining candidates had merely formed exploratory committees to that point in the race before formal announcements later in 2003. 2007, Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination debated for the first time at the Reagan Library in California in a forum hosted by MSNBC. 2008, Illinois Senator won the Democratic caucuses in Guam (by seven votes). 2015, Ben Carson announced his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination.


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