- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

D.C. Democratic leaders yesterday said they would go ahead with their first-in-the-nation presidential primary Jan. 13, but they will not push to put candidates who have opted out of the primary back on the ballot.

“Im not going to move forward and add the names on,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat. Mr. Evans, the architect of the primary plan, had been expected to present legislation to the D.C. Council next month that would restore the names to the ballot.

He would need six other council members to vote for the legislation, but he said yesterday he “probably didnt have the votes to do it.”

Democratic National Committee rules prohibit any caucuses, conventions or primaries before the traditional first votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Wesley Clark, a retired Army general, sent letters to the D.C. Board of Elections earlier this month asking that their names be removed from the ballot.

The withdrawal left former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the Rev. Al Sharpton, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio on the ballot.

Mr. Evans, along with Mayor Anthony A. Williams and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, met with Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe yesterday.

“Ive supported our primary because I believe its role was not to be first in the nation. It was really to highlight our role as a disenfranchised people,” Mr. Williams said. “I think we agreed to a number of steps that we can take to raise the profile of voting rights in the city.”

Mr. Williams noted that the city has “the second-highest per-capita income-tax rate in the country - our contribution to the federal government - without representation in Congress.”

Mrs. Norton said Mr. McAuliffe pledged to secure a high-profile figure to headline a Democratic town hall meeting to address D.C. concerns. The person was not named. She said Mr. McAuliffe also agreed to highlight the issue of D.C. voting rights at next summers Democratic National Convention.

“The primary is just one way were using the party apparatus to reach the larger public in a way we dont have the money to do normally,” she added.

Mrs. Norton also said the city would renew its bid to host the first primary in the nation in 2008.

“We now know that the rules arent set for 2008,” Mrs. Norton said. “We put the chairman on notice that for the 2008 convention we would put in our bid to be the first, unequivocally.”

Mr. Evans said he was satisfied with the national partys pledge to support D.C. voting rights.

“The idea was to have the primary in violation of DNC rules, to get thrown out of the convention, picket the convention and get a lot of press coverage,” Mr. Evans said.

“In my estimation [these commitments] will highlight voting rights. Im relatively pleased with the direction were headed in,” he said.

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