- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The D.C. Council is moving fast to schedule the District's presidential primary before the New Hampshire primary is held for 2004 candidates, several of whom live in the city.
Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, stressed that three Democratic senators seeking the nomination John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina, and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut live in Georgetown year round. All 13 members of the council have signed onto a bill he introduced yesterday to change the District's primary date. He also said Mayor Anthony A. Williams has promised to sign it.
"Currently we are the last primary, and the only reason we are last is because the other states have moved up," Mr. Evans said.
"The only reason New Hampshire and Iowa are first is because of tradition, and Iowa doesn't even have a primary; they have a caucus. Why should they be first?"
Mr. Evans said the District provides better representation of the country's diversity and, as the nation's capital and the seat of democracy, should be first on the list.
The bill would change the District's presidential primary from the last week of May to the second Saturday in January. Next year, that date would be Jan. 10, he said.
No primary schedule has been set by the Democratic National Committee, but under a rule, no state can hold a primary before New Hampshire or Iowa. New Hampshire is expected to have its primary for 2004 on Jan. 27. The Iowa caucuses are expected Jan. 19.
Iowa and New Hampshire reap great economic windfalls from the primaries, getting more that $100 million in sales-tax revenue, Mr. Evans said. He said money pours into those states every four years when throngs of print and television journalists flock there almost a year in advance. This is in addition to the candidates and their entourages, and the citizens who travel like sports fans to see the process firsthand.
Mr. Evans said yesterday on WTOP's "The Political Hour with Mark Plotkin" that he had a conversation Monday with DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe in which it was insinuated that if the District changes its primary date, the committee might opt not to seat the city's delegates to the Democratic National Convention, citing violation of party rules.
Democratic Party officials confirmed that a conversation did take place and said the primary date could not be sanctioned by the party.
"We look forward to working with the D.C. Democratic Party in designing a delegate-selection process that is fair, open and within the party's rules," said Guillermo Menses, party spokesman.
But Mr. Evans said the District is not a state and should not be subject to these rules, despite the DNC's recognition of the city as a state for the purposes of presidential elections.
"It does violate the party's rules, but that doesn't matter. This bill will pass and we will be first," he said.
The bill will probably come up for vote in March, Mr. Evans said, after a public hearing that will be scheduled for some time later this month or early next month.

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