Democratic Contenders

Well, the Democrats now have 24 presidential contenders–about 16 more than a person can comfortably keep track of.

It’s a new record–one we may hope is never broken.

Early on the Democratic Central Committee decided to limit participation in their forums to 10 a night for two nights. With competition increasing, candidates may have to get both over one percent in three recognized national polls and donations from 65,000 individuals, including at least 200 from 20 different states.

Actually, the media and pollsters did a lot of weeding to get the candidate number to 24–over 250 people have filed with the Federal Election Commission as Democratic candidates. It’s fairly easy–there’s no fee and the form is available online. I’m debating whether to add that to my bucket list.

The 24 includes only those who have held public office, appeared in national polling, received substantial media coverage or, at this stage, or done some serious fundraising.   ‘

A friend posted on Facebook last week that Democrats would be better off if some of the candidates filed for Senate instead–the party needs to gain four seats in the Senate and only one for the presidency.

It made me worry whether the eight senators running for president would make create more open Democratic Senate seats in 2020.  (There are 34 seats up for re-election this year; Democrats hold 12 and Republicans, 22.)

I found the answer is no.  Only Corey Booker’s term is expiring, and New Jersey has conveniently passed “Corey’s law” making it clear that candidates can file for both President and Congress.

Three candidates currently serving in the U.S. House–Tulsi Gabbard, Seth Moulton, and Tim Ryan–are from states with similar laws.  A loophole seems to allow Eric Swalwell of California to enter both races.

Washington doesn’t permit dual filing but Gov. Jay Inslee doesn’t have to file for re-election until May 2020, when the results of many presidential primaries are known.

Nevada is one of the four states that will hold primaries in February. Then 13 states, including California, will vote on Super Tuesday–March 3.  Idaho, Washington and five other states will vote the following week. Oregon will wait until May 19 and Montana, June 2.

And Idaho Democrats will not select their presidential candidate at a caucus this year.

I don’t know when Idahoans first caucused, but I remember the Canyon County caucus of 1968;  a small group voted to send our delegates unpledged so the candidates would want to talk to them.  In 1976 Dems filled a Caldwell courtroom for a heated contest which Jimmy Carter won.

The 2008 and 2016 events were massive and most Canyon County participants were elated to share space with more than 1,000 other Democrats and to nominate Barrack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

Unfortunately, those large numbers contributed to the demise of our presidential caucus. People waited in line for hours to be checked in and more hours on hard bleachers while ballots for delegates were counted.

In 2018 the Democratic Central Committee ruled that state parties should participate in state-sponsored primary elections where they are available. Those few, including Iowa, that still have presidential caucuses must allow absentee voting. (Traditionally, a caucus has included campaigning and three votes so people can change their minds as they learn more.)

Democrats will still hold caucuses throughout Idaho not long after the primary to select delegates to the state convention in June. These delegates will write the party platform and select delegates to the national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 10-13.

But, first, we must study up on the candidates.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019
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