August 10th, 2007
05:36 PM ET
16 years ago

Iowa governor vows caucuses will be held in '08

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Iowa Gov. Chet Culver vowed Friday to hold his state's presidential caucuses in January, despite speculation the contests would move to December in order to preserve the Hawkeye State's long-standing tradition of having the first say in helping select the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

"We have no interest in going in December, for a lot of reasons," said Culver at a news conference held in the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters. "This is the 2008 delegate selection process, and those delegates should be selected in 2008."

Culver's declaration comes 24 hours after the South Carolina Republican Party announced that it would hold its primary on January 19, an action that creates a domino effect and forces another traditional early voting state, New Hampshire, to move its primary to January 12 or perhaps earlier.

New Hampshire state law requires it to have a seven day buffer between its primary and a similar election. Iowa, too, is bound by its own state law to have an eight day buffer after its caucuses. Under the current circumstances, there is a very small window to hold all of these nominating contests in January. But Culver left open the possibility of changing the Iowa law to make sure his state is not caucusing in 2007.

"In this state, we're going to still have Christmas," said Culver, who was flanked by Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro and state Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan. "We're very firm in the fact that we're going to have the caucuses in January."

Right now, the Iowa caucuses are scheduled for January 14.

The rush by several states to exert more influence in the 2008 presidential nomination process has thrown the traditional calendar into chaos, and will likely result in the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees being selected on February 5.

As it now stands, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida are all holding either primaries or caucuses in January, with Michigan threatening to join this quintet. On February 5, more than 20 additional states could hold their own primaries. This has caused headaches for the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee, both of which have threatened to sanction several of these states for not abiding by established rules prohibiting the holding of nominating contests until February.

Still, the threat of sanctions - such as not seating a state’s full delegation at the presidential nominating convention - has not deterred party leaders such as South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson. It has also created interesting alliances between states seeking to preserve their role in the presidential selection process.

In a symbolic move, Dawson announced his primary date at a news conference in the New Hampshire State Capitol building. He was joined by New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner and several Granite State Republicans and Democrats.

"We at the South Carolina Republican Party respect New Hampshire's historically significant place in presidential politics," Dawson said. "And we are here to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends in New Hampshire to reaffirm the importance of preserving the prominent roles both of our states play in presidential politics."

Gardner described Dawson's decision to make the announcement in New Hampshire "a truly … extraordinary kind gesture of goodwill (to) the people of New Hampshire and their cherished primary tradition."

While the national parties have said New Hampshire's primary would be held on January 22, Gardner said he never recognized that date. But he also said that he wanted to work with Iowa to ensure that the state's tradition is protected. Iowa Secretary of State Mauro said he is talking with Gardner, while Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Brennan emphasized he is working with the DNC to ensure Iowa retains its unique status.

There are many unresolved issues in what has become a complicated game of chess between the states and the national parties.

  • While the South Carolina Republican Party has moved its primary to January 19, the state Democratic Party is sanctioned by the DNC to hold its primary on January 29 - the same day Florida is scheduled to hold its primary. The Florida primary date has not been approved by either the DNC or RNC. There will likely be an effort to persuade the DNC to allow the South Carolina Democrats to join Republicans 10 days earlier.
  • Nevada Democrats have been sanctioned by the DNC to hold a caucus on January 19, and there is a chance that the national party will be asked to allow them to move to an earlier date - especially if it allows the South Carolina Democratic Party to hold its primary on the same day.
  • Will the DNC and RNC grant Iowa Democrats and Republicans a waiver to hold their caucuses in early January?
  • Will Michigan try to hold a nominating contest in January?Many of these questions will be answered once New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner announces New Hampshire's primary date. He is expected to do so later in the year. What will not be known until the summer is whether or not the penalties against the states that failed to abide by the RNC and DNC rules will be enforced once the nominees are selected.

Filed under: Iowa
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Erik, Austin TX

    The New Hampshire primary for 2012 will be held next Tuesday in order to ensure they will continue to be the first primary in the nation in the face of every other state moving their calendars back. The remaining states will have their primaries for 2012 next Tuesday night.

    The New Hampshire primary for 2016 was held last month.

    August 10, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. James, NY, NY

    Where is a governor with a lick of sense who says enough is enough and says they will under no circumstances move their primary.

    Maybe, god forbid the fact I have to say this, the government should set the schedule seeing as how states have lost their minds and the federal government is supposed to protect us from the lunatics.

    The whole idea of a rotating schedule with what stats have primaries go when is sounding kind of nice right now.

    August 10, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Dave, Lexington, KY

    I am so glad that in Kentucky our Governor and Secretary of State think that this is non-sense. They are not going to move things up (thank God). As a matter of fact, our Secretary of State wants us to adopt a rotating regional primary. Sounds like a good idea to me.

    August 10, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. Matt, Coral Gables, FL

    Let's just keep pushing these forward, far enough to the point where the lesser known candidates will just simply have zero chance of gaining any momentum against these "front running" candidates, you know, the ones that the news/media corporations have disproportionately given airtime to from the get-go.

    August 10, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |