Originally created 07/31/00

New primary system?



The Republican Party is boldly moving to make the presidential primary system more interesting, relevant, voter-friendly and fairer.

We hope they follow through, and encourage Democrats to do the same. The current front-loaded primary system, which wraps up in mid-March, is obviously broken. It's time for a fix.

The GOP proposal, put forth by party leaders and endorsed by a key party committee studying primary reform ideas, would dramatically change the way presidential nominees are chosen.

"The Delaware plan," as it is called (because Delaware is the nation's smallest state), would let small states vote first, followed by larger and larger states, culminating with the biggest, most populous of all - California, New York, Texas and Florida.

The primaries would be held over several months, providing plenty of time to build public excitement and interest in the nominating process. This would also give candidates, especially second-tier candidates, improved opportunities to impress voters and it would allow all candidates to make midcourse campaign adjustments.

This plan denies New Hampshire its time-honored status of holding the first-in-the-nation primary. It would still be in the first primary, but it'd be lumped in with other small states.

And that's OK with the GOP power-structure that seeks to curb New Hampshire's clout. They're convinced that Granite State Republicans - who handed surprise victories to fire-breathing Pat Buchanan in '96 and maverick Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2000 - are more concerned with playing on their image as unconventional curmudgeons than they are in dealing seriously with GOP issues and programs.

The "Delaware" proposal is still a long shot. It has several hurdles to clear before the Republican National Convention adopts it - and then it still must be approved by the state Republican parties.

Even so, as the saying goes - a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Why not take that first step in Philadelphia?