Democratic Change Commission

As expected, the Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee endorsed a resolution which calls for creation of a "Democratic Change Commission" to address key issues in the presidential selection process, including the mechanics of caucuses.  (Iowa and 17 other states held caucuses this year.)  The commission is also to address the issue of "super" or uncommitted delegates.

Kirk Watson, a state senator in Texas, told the Rules Committee the commission would have 35 members and two co-chairs who will be appointed by the next Democratic National Committee chairman.  A new DNC chairman will be elected next year, after the election.  Current DNC chair Howard Dean left the Rules Committee meeting before discussion of the commission.  Four Iowa reporters who’re in Denver — Rod Boshart and Todd Dorman of The Cedar Rapids Gazette; Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register and yours truly caught up with Dean as he was walking to an escalator outside the Rules Committee meeting room.

"What position do you think Iowa will have after the commission has met?" Henderson asked (that would be me).

"I don’t know," Dean replied, concluding his brisk walk toward the escalator and climbing aboard the conveyance as he added: "We don’t even have a commission yet."

Former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges, speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign, told the crew of Iowa reporters he expects Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to be "first" contests in 2012.  However, Hodges said the goal is to ensure none of those contests are held before February 1, 2012 — and then no other state would have a contest before March 5, 2012. 

As you may recall, Hillary Clinton and her crew complained about the caucus process, arguing elderly voters, shift workers and members of the military were disenfranchised because they were unable to attend the caucuses, which are scheduled at a specific time.  The "Democratic Change Commission" that will be assembled is to examine how those sorts of voters might cast an absentee ballot and participate in the caucuses. 

Rules Committee members were given 10 minutes to discuss the commission’s creation.  A woman from Chicago said it was important that the commission ensures that "the principle of voting in private is upheld." The Republican Party of Iowa has caucus rules which allow for a strawpoll vote — voting in private — but the Democratic Party of Iowa has caucus participants publicly declare their support of a candidate by gathering in groups.  Hodges, the former South Carolina governor, told the Iowa reporters he does not envision doing away with caucuses or dramatically changing the nature.mechanics of caucuses, adding that some state parties opt to hold caucuses because the cost of having a caucus is much less than having a primary.

A member of the coal miners union spoke to the Rules Committee, saying in his state of Nevada there had been an "enormous amount of confusion" about the caucus process, primarily because of the high turn-out, something he said was a "good problem."  Wilma Webb, a former state legislator in Colorado, told the Rules Committee caucuses "when they are run properly" are a "wonderful way" to build the party from the grassroots up because they are meeting places for neighbors to discuss issues. 

After the 10 minutes allotted for committee members to speak in favor of the commission’s creation — and it’s preservation of early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — no one rose to object or speak against the move.  Before the meeting started, Jon Winkleman of New York — a Hillary Clinton campaign worker in Ames just before the Caucues, approached three of the Iowa reporters to air his complaints about caucuses.  He is now part of a group called "I own my vote"

"I was on the ground in Iowa for Clinton and some of the friends I made in Iowa were at some of the rural caucuses.  They knew everyone in their small town and there was a lot of people who came in on a bus, faces they didn’t recognize, who participated in the caucus and then left.  Now, those people might be from town, but they suspect they might not be from the town, but since the Iowa state party doesn’t release the list of who came and who didn’t come, we don’t know," he said.

"What town was that?" I asked.

"Um, that was in Boone," Winkleman said (Boone is not a rural town, it’s a city by Iowa standards, but this guy’s from New York, so Boone must seem small).  "There was a lot, there was about 2000 complaints about caucus problems in Texas alone.  Our thing with ‘I own my vote’ is We’re not trying to say what did happen or what didn’t happen, whether the complaints were valid or not valid.  What we really want to do is repair the process so in the future, there’s no doubt, there’s no question, everyone who is a shift worker is able to vote, people who are elderly and home-bound are able to vote by absentee ballot.  We just want the same high standards the DNC applies to general election to apply to their own nomination process."

"Did you take up this complaint about what happened in Boone with the state party?" I asked.

"I would have to talk to my friends who I was talking to after the thing to get you that information, but there’s been a lot of complaints everywhere," Winkleman said. "My congressman, I guess I shouldn’t give out his name since it isn’t on the record, was at a caucus in Des Moines and people were just shouting out numbers and they weren’t counting.  People who were walking into a caucus in Iowa were being plastered with Obama buttons whether or not they were Obama voters."

Mike Milligan, the executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party, was at the Rules Committee meeting and when asked by reporters if he and the party had received the complaints Winkleman raised, Milligan said: "Not at all."

"I think that everyone that we talked to after the Caucuses were very pleased with the Caucuses, whether that was Senator Obama or the next vice president — Senator Biden," Milligan said.  "Every one that we’ve heard had a good experience."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Jon Winkleman is a marginal character in the gay political community who is incapable of keeping his inner ranting to himself. He loves to see his name in print and he has no difficulty spewing unsubstantitated stuff just to call attention to himself. The Clinton campaign would give him no job title at all (but he was certainly free to “support” her, which he did). A Google search will show that he has a history of presenting his bizarre conspiracy notions about all manner of subjects as fact. He was booted off the National Stonewall Democrats board of directors last year because of how much of a lightweight he is (he still hangs on to an alternate board slot).

  2. This is very much a PUMA tactic. They’re currently trying to claim cheating at the Caucuses due to Sen. Clinton losing many of them.
    There’s currently no credible proof of their claims though

  3. I cannot believe that so many including media is accepting that Barack Obama won the primary fair and square. Even the Convention roll call vote was rigged because the delegates were literally FORCED to vote in a secret write in ballot *before* the roll call vote was ever taken. And some of those numbers… Well, now, what can I say, all one need do is to compare the numbers with the actual Primary and Caucus votes and you will know that Hillary Clinton won the race.
    She won the popular vote and she already won the Electorial map because she had 311 when only 270 are needed.
    Wake Up America
    Hillary Should be the Democratic Nominee.