Posted: July 28, 2003
DEMOCRATS -- YES,
REPUBLICANS -- NO
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
The Democrats have so many presidential
candidates for 2004 that the roster looks like a baseball lineup.
The Republicans would just as soon keep the president that the
Not very surprisingly, the Delaware Democrats
figure they had better hold a primary next year, while their
Republican counterparts have decided not to bother.
Under state law, there is a deadline Friday
for the parties to notify the election commissioner whether they
want to have a primary on Tuesday, Feb. 3, or use some other means
for settling on the presidential preference of their delegates for
the national nominating conventions.
The Republicans have bowed out. Nothing
against primaries, they just don't need one with George W. Bush
going for a second term.
"It's a decision we think is a very practical
one," said Terry A. Strine, the Republican state chairman. "It made
no sense to schedule a primary under the circumstances. We think the
party's clear on who our nominee is going to be, but we certainly
will need one in '08."
The Republicans expect their preparation for
the national convention, set for next summer in New York City, to be
accomplished by electing delegates at their state convention next
spring, Strine said.
The Democrats are planning on a primary to
sort out their field of nine -- former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley
Braun, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, North Carolina Sen. John R.
Edwards, Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Florida Sen. D. Robert
Graham, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, Ohio Rep. Dennis J.
Kucinich, Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and the Rev. Alfred
C. Sharpton of New York.
Edwards and Lieberman have made low-key
appearances here. Of course, there is still the possibility the
field could expand to include a candidate who lives here.
The 2004 presidential cycle could be the one
that finally establishes the model for the Delaware primary after
two unsatisfactory experiments in 1996 and 2000. Before that,
Delaware held presidential caucuses, like Iowa.
The primary was conceived to pick up a little
presidential glory as the second in the nation, behind New
Hampshire's traditional leadoff election, but that state did
everything it could to squelch Delaware's effort because it was
scheduled only four days after its own. New Hampshire wanted a week
to itself, and it had the clout to muscle most candidates into
ignoring Delaware's primary.
The state's political leadership finally
accepted reality. A new law was enacted this year to back off the
primary date. The presidential calendar is expected to roll out with
Iowa on Monday, Jan. 19, New Hampshire on Tuesday, Jan. 27, and
Delaware on the following Tuesday, along with South Carolina,
Arizona, Missouri and Virginia.
"We intend to go forward, in keeping with the
statute change, with a real working primary with live candidates and
engaged voters -- which is what we wanted all along," said Richard
H. Bayard, the Democratic state chairman.
"Instead of notifying the candidates they have
been forced onto the ballot, they may want to be here."
Once the state Democrats' presidential
preferences have been set by the primary, the party will hold a
state convention to elect delegates to the national convention,
scheduled for next summer in Boston.
Having a primary for one party, instead of
two, won't make a difference in the cost, according to Frank B.
Calio, the state elections commissioner. While the expenses haven't
been estimated yet, the primary in the past has cost about $1
million, he said.
The primary is about six months away, but
there has been little sense of it yet, and Delaware could miss this
show again if U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. gets in to commandeer
the local ballot.
"He'll win," Bayard said.
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