Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do You Wanna Dance

I'm a little behind reading the Sunday papers (I've been thinking of doing a continuing twitter feature in which I notify everyone when I finish them, local and NYT.  I think the average is around Thursday lunchtime, not counting the Book Review).  At any rate, I finally reached the state news of my local paper, where I learned that Texas Democrats are retaining the famous -- infamous? -- Texas Two-Step.  That's the presidential nomination procedure in which most of the delegates are selected in a presidential primary, but a significant chunk are selected in a caucus/convention system, beginning with precinct caucuses that take place just after the polls close for the primary.  As you may recall, in 2008 Hillary Clinton won the primary by a narrow margin, but Barack Obama defeated her decisively in the caucuses, with Obama walking away with a slim majority of Texas delegates at the end of the day.

Anyway, the Texas Two-Step wasn't new in 2008, but it was news to almost everyone, because Texas hadn't actually been a meaningful stop on the presidential nomination tour for some time.  As a result, first of all the caucuses were chaotic...normally sleepy precinct caucuses were overrun by enthusiastic, committed, activists, hardly any of whom had ever attended such a meeting before.  In many of the cites, the rooms were too small, and there weren't enough materials for the number of people that showed up; in almost all cases,  no more than a handful of people had any experience with the procedures that were supposed to be used.  Good fun! 

One way or another, they've decided to retain it at this point.  Of course, barring anything unforeseen, the caucus portion will be back to a half-dozen voters per precinct or less in 2012, and for all we know it may be decades before Texas plays a key role in a Democratic presidential nomination again.  For those of us who chronicle the demands on the American voter, however, it's good to know that it's not easing up any time soon, at least not for Texas Democrats.

1 comment:

  1. Texas Democratic Party chair, Boyd Ritchie, made a surprise Saturday appearance at last month's Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting concerning the 2012 presidential nomination rules. He said then and reiterated in something I read on the the two-step over the weekend that he didn't have a dog in the fight. However, he was in Washington ahead of the (just completed) Texas Democratic convention to ensure that the party wouldn't do anything there in regards to 2012 that would put them in violation of the party's rules.

    He didn't really get that assurance in terms of the two-step and many have spent a lot of time since 2008 talking about the need to remove it. The Rules and Bylaws Committee won't formalize their recommendation to the full DNC until a meeting late next week. The big three (caucuses, superdelegates and primary/caucus timing) were left for the July 9 & 10 meeting. Some of the comments in May however, led me to believe that Texas will be safe under, what is called in the rules, best practices. Part of what the Democratic Change Commission was charged with examining was some reform to the caucus process. Their recommendation was to develop a set of best practices that I think will ultimately yield to state level traditions like the two step.

    We'll have to see starting a week from Friday.

    [You can read more about the first meeting here.]


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