- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2003

D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman A. Scott Bolden says he wants his party to focus on the city’s presidential primary — the first in the nation — during the next seven months.

“What people in this city — Democrats, officials, whoever — have to understand is the possibilities are endless with this primary,” Mr. Bolden told The Washington Times.

Mr. Bolden said he wants the wards’ Democratic committees to focus on improving voter education about the primary, registration and participation.

In addition, November’s Kennedy-King Dinner — the annual fund-raising event for local political parties — will focus on D.C. voting rights and highlight the District’s Jan. 13 primary, he said.

“We have invited all nine of the Democratic candidates to attend and have spoken informally with three so far,” Mr. Bolden said. “We will challenge them to stand up for democracy and remove this fundamental unconstitutional injustice.”

Mr. Bolden, 41, won the Democratic committee chairmanship by defeating fellow committee member Keenan Keller last month. He is serving the remainder of the term of Norman C. Neverson, who resigned in May.

The D.C. Council last month enacted legislation changing the District’s presidential primary from the second Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in January, making the city’s primary balloting the first in the nation next year.

D.C. Democratic leaders pushed for the legislation to call attention to the District’s lack of congressional voting rights. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s congressional representative, can vote in committees, but not on the House floor.

The national Democratic Party opposed the primary change, seeking to keep the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary as the traditional opening events of the election season. National party leaders threatened to disavow the District’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston next year.

“It took a great deal of courage and leadership to move the primary date and bring our disenfranchisement to the forefront,” Mr. Bolden said.

He said the District will not lose any of its convention delegates.

The local Democratic Party is not bound to assign convention delegates to the winner of the D.C. primary.

“Although it will be an ‘advisory’ primary, we will obligate ourselves to follow the will of the voters,” said Mr. Bolden, a former Manhattan district attorney.

He said he wants to reorganize the wards’ committees with the help of the Democratic leaders. “I want to build a foundation by creating a local Democratic business council, a labor council, a women’s council and even a gay council,” he said.

The councils will be used mostly to reach out to and galvanize various groups to maximize fund raising, he said.

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