Senator Feinstein Eyes New Primary Process

From The Hill on Wednesday:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wants to hold Rules Committee hearings in September on the presidential primary process, an effort that could remind the public of her party’s contentious nomination battle just two months before the general election.

Feinstein, chairwoman of the committee, says the hearings will be limited and won’t be conducted in a way that diverts Democrats’ focus from the general election.

Apparently there’s no objection to DiFi’s plans for a Rules Committee hearing on the presidential primary process as Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said “the party’s leadership knows of Feinstein’s plans and does not oppose them.”

The hearings would focus on the question of whether a uniform primary process should be in place instead of a patchwork of different rules in different states regarding delegate distribution.

They could also include a bill by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) that would abolish the Electoral College system in presidential elections and replace it with a direct popular vote.

Senator Dianne Feinstein said:

I’m very concerned that every state has a different set of rules. The parties have different rules, too. Republicans have winner-take-all, which means they finish about halfway through the primary season and their candidate is free and clear, and Democrats go through this convoluted, difficult process. And it means that somebody who won the popular vote can lose the delegate vote.”

Initially Feinstein had planned to hold hearing on the topic on July 9 but that hearing was postponed, a Rules Committee officials said, “because they are trying to accommodate leaders from the Democratic and Republican national committees in the hearings.”

Since those leaders are focused on the upcoming conventions, Feinstein said, it is likely the hearings will be held sometime in September, after the conventions.

Feinstein also “dismissed the suggestion that the hearings could upset Democratic Party leaders who would prefer to focus on the general election instead of the party’s fractious primary between Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).”

How is a simple hearing by the Rules Committee that much of a distraction? We won’t do it in that manner, where that will be the case,” she said. “There are big constitutional problems that we’ve got to clear up. I don’t think it’s going to be a blockbuster hearing, other than being informative for us. But there’s a lot of interest in this body to do it.”

Feinstein said the committee has only limited authority to look into the process anyway and waiting until after the general election is risky because of the chance of a drawn-out coda. She also emphasized that the hearing won’t trigger any immediate changes.

“After you go through the general election, if there’s another Florida or something, that pushes it off,” she said. “This hearing isn’t going to be dispositive of anything. It’s to hear, to take testimony. And there will be more than one hearing. It’s a beginning.”

It is a “beginning” as Feinstein says and it’s great to hear that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not interested in getting the middle of process. It’s clear our election system needs a major overhaul. We’ve seen far too much evidence of that in recent years. Feinstein’s “beginning” may not be enough for some election reform advocates, but it’s a start. Stay tuned… We’ll keep an eye on what develops.

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13 Responses to Senator Feinstein Eyes New Primary Process

  1. Mark says:

    Hi Pamela and All:  Yep… you got that right Pamela, politics as usual…  It is A beginning all right.  An earlier beginning would have been helpful.  If Feinstein were truly interested in holding hearings that, as she notes, may go on for some period of time (“And there will be more than one hearing.”)When Feinstein promised to the New York Times which was noted in their editorial on Primary Reforms on June 8, I thought, “wow, what a concept, but it won’t happen — too much controversy to close to the most recent primary democracy debacle…  Won’t happen, or, if it does, will be way watered down.”Well, that is what we will get.  Not that I expected anything different from Democrats (I resigned March 25 and am official independent — Pamela thinks I could do more within the party… I think she is wrong… but Pamela is kind of a reformed insider, so what can I expect).  It’s okay… just don’t put me down for my efforts.  Thanks.At any rate, back to PRIMARY REFORM.  If I was a Republican, I would push hard for hearings right now to expose the “fraud” of this last Democratic Primary.  They are missing a giant opportunity to shame the Democrats and spotlight more of the giant flaws in the DNC and how much the DNC has abandoned the high moral ground — my title for that article is “Obamacrats Gone Wild — Abandoning the High Moral Ground.”So, yah, Pamela, it is politics as usual, and not about integrity or change.  Thank you for spotlighting Feinstein’s efforts.  Her bill on primary reform is fatally flawed.  What kind of primary reform would you like to see?

  2. Mark

    “If I was a Republican, I would push hard for hearings right now to expose the “fraud” of this last Democratic Primary.”

    As you must be well aware the Republicans care little about election reform, so that theory is really just a moot point. They could care less about hearing on election reform – if they did we would have had them long ago.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    The Republics will be much more interested in “reforms” after they officially get beat silly in Nov. However, it’s predictible that their idea of reform will be something which keeps enough people away from the polls to give them a chance to win again.

  4. Darrell

    Exactly. In truth what is more screwed up than our primary system is the fact the Republicans have stolen the last 2 elections. The idea that they would jump up and do something to “fix” the system for the better is laughable.

  5. Mark says:

    Hi All:   Okay, so you pointed out my weak statement about Republicans and “high moral ground.”   Maybe I was too exuberant on the upside of having at least someone take advantage of the Democrats’ latest wing-clipping of democracy…. but, I guess, now that the Democrats HAVE joined the Republicans in that department, there is no one left to take the high moral ground.  Obviously, it is not you folks.So, again, besides pointing out my weakest statement, any REAL thoughts about primary reform?

  6. Mark

    To be honest, although it is an important issue, it’s not one that I have time to focus on. There’s only so much time for me to blog and too many issues. I’m sure you understand.

  7. “Let the people rule.” 100 % agree and how fast can it be revised ?

  8. Way to go Senator Feinstein ! Put me on that fund raiser to see it happen ! Also,it may be important to be a US citizen before you’re allowed to vote ! As if the DNC campaign laws aren’t complicated enough and now go find super delegates ? Say watt ! You’ve got to be kidding! Count the American votes fair and square. I’m all excited about this idea and how fast can it happen ? While you’re at it ,make sure all those FL. and MI. votes get counted too !

  9. Never say never and bet Lou Dobbs would love it !

  10. Darrell Prows says:

    Mark: The crux of the matter is, however we do it, we still end up only with a two party system going into November. I’ve been consistent on this site for more than year in advocating for the advantages that The Second American Constitutional Convention would have in leading us into some form of politics that would more accurately recoginize the disparate views that exists in our electorate (and certainly in our potential electorate).

  11. Mr Prows,check out the polls up for a third party called independents that are registered and doing so left and right.Poll Americans for the senators idea and watch the landslide ! Maybe she’s our next president ! Were Americans and their votes not somewhat cancelled out in the primary between Obama and Clinton with delegates ? Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in America and the people in this country voted. “Let the people rule.” 

  12. Not to mention the media bias and our leadership with a group of leaders. The confusion caused on FL. and MI. was uncalled for ! Stand up for the voices across america and Hillary Clinton did  ! 100% in support of the senator from California and re-haul !That’s not causing confusion,it’s the reality of our political system headed toward fair solutions ! Watch these polls get started on CNN ! What does disinfranchisement mean  to you America ? Yes,still believe Clinton needs to be at that convention and our voices need to be heard until the last delegate vote is counted. See through the confusion and what’s fair in the race for president ? Not to mention one of the most politically historical races ever and so close either one of them could have won. The media can blow it up in any direction they want to but America voted ! Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. That’s not worth voices in America heard in Denver and on the roll call. Is she Vice President yet and I’d feel better knowing she was there ! How many others in this country feel the same way ?

  13. Is politics fair ? There’s a political cartoon for sure ! Is life always fair ? Red rover,red rover send a political re-haul right over ! Just don’t appreciate the way it was handle but old enough to realize.