Dean supports rotating regional presidential primaries

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(Host) Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean says he’d like to see his party adopt a system of rotating regional presidential primaries beginning in 2012.

Dean says the approach would give most states an opportunity to have a greater influence on the selection of presidential nominees.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Four years ago, just a few states held their presidential primary elections by the middle of February.  In 2008, almost half of all states will because these states want to have a bigger impact on the nominating process.

The Democratic National Committee is allowing only four states to hold primaries or caucuses in January – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

But two other states, Florida and Michigan, are defying the DNC by scheduling their primaries before February first.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is the chairman of the DNC.  Speaking on VPRs Vermont Edition, Dean said he supports a plan to hold rotating regional primaries starting in 2012:

(Dean) "I think the thing to do is to move some of the other primaries back and then rotate them through so in the future every state can count on having some significant input into who the presidential nominee is."

Vermont will be holding its presidential primary on Town Meeting Day in the beginning of March.  Dean says the primary could attract some attention if no presidential candidate is able to win 3 of the first 4 primary contests:

(Dean) "I think if it’s not done in the first four primaries then I think probably the voters will wait until March to decide who it is. So, you may see some folks head up here, as for example Jimmy Carter did 1980 and Dick Gephardt did in 1988."

The DNC has told Democrats in Florida and Michigan that their delegates to the national convention won’t be seated if these states go ahead with plans to hold primaries in January.

Dean says he’s not issuing threats – he’s merely sticking to the rules of the Party:  

(Dean)"The rules say that (which were agreed to by Florida) that Florida would go on the fifth of February. They chose not to do that so they get sanctioned- that’s not a surprise. I’m not carrying out a threat, it’s not ‘us against Florida‘. The rules are very clear: once you set the primary schedule, once everybody agrees to it, it has to stay intact because every state of course feels that they’re the most important state."

Because of the front loading of the primary schedule, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has yet to schedule his state’s first in the nation primary.  Dean says he’s not overly concerned by this situation.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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